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EDWIN W. SMITH 



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THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


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in 2016 




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AFRICA 



StanfoT'S^ G^o^ap^Estaht 


THE TWENTY-SIXTH HARTLEY LECTURE: 


THE 

GOLDEN STOOL 

Some aspects of the Conflict of 
Cultures in modern Africa. 


BY 

EDWIN W. SMITH: 

Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, 
Author of 

A Handbook of the Ha Language ; 

Robert Moffat, one of God’s Gardeners, etc. 

Part Author of 

The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia. 


With a Foreword by 

THE RIGHT HON. SIR F. D. LUGARD, 

G.C.M.G., C.B., D.S.O. 

(formerly Governor-General of Nigeria.) 

LONDON : 

HOLBORN PUBLISHING HOUSE, 

HOLBORN HALL, CLERKENWELL ROAD, E.C.l 
1926. 


“ There is nothing new under the sun — even immediately 
under it in Central Africa. The only novelty is the human 
heart— Central Man. That is never stale, and there are depths 
still unexplored, heights still unattained, warm rivers of love, 
cold streams of hatred, and vast plains where strange motives 
grow. These are our business.”— Henry Seton Merriman. 


TO THE MEMORY 


(Sometime 


OF 

ANDREW DALE 

^Magistrate in Northern Rhodesia) 

AND 

MUNGALO 

(an AFRICAN chief) 


MEN I WAS PRIVILEGED TO CALL MY FRIENDS 






y 






FOREWORD. 


By the Plight Hon. Sir F. D. Lugard, g.c.m.g. 

{Formerly Governor-General of Nigeria). 

O F the making ot books on Africa there is 
no end — especially of the travel and tourist 
type — but books which combine half a life- 
time of the closest contact with, and work among 
Africans with a profound study of the best English 
and French authors on the subject are as rare 
as they are welcome. 

Born in South x\frica and with seventeen years’ 
experience as missionary and pioneer, i\Ir. Smith 
has shoun himself in his already published works 
to be a competent student of African languages 
and of African mentality, while the extent of 
his reading, as evidenced by the references in 
the present modest volume, is amazing. He 


FOREWORD. 


viii 

reviews the complex problems which face the 
Administrator and the Missionary with a breadth of. 
view and an insight which command admiration, 
even if in rare instances the reader may not 
wholly share his conclusions. His study of Islam 
in Africa is particularly liberal and illuminating. 

I can heartily recommend this little volume 
to those w'ho desire to get at the facts and I 
know'^ of none w'hich I have found more instructive. 


F. D. LUGARD 


AUTHOR’S PREFACE. 


“ I BEG to direct your attention to Africa.” 

1 These words, so strangely unemotional to 
our ears, were spoken by David Livingstone 
to members of the University of Cambridge on 
December 4th, 1857. His journey across Africa 
had made his name famous. On his return to 
England, universities and learned societies vied 
with each other in doing him honour. At Cambridge 
the Vice-Chancellor presided over the meeting in 
the venerable Senate House which was crowded 
with graduates, undergraduates and visitors. The 
plain, single-minded missionary was accorded a 
reception that an Emperor might envy. And at 
the conclusion of his address he launched an appeal 
which was destined to have a tremendous effect 
upon men and movements in after days : “I beg 
to direct your attention to Africa. I know that in 
a few years I shall be cut off in that coxmtry, which 
is now open ; do not let it be shut again ! I go 
back to Africa to try to make an open path for 
commerce and Christianity ; do you carry out the 
work which I have begun. I leave it with you.” 
For as long as I can remember, David Livingstone 
has been my hero — ^my master. And when the 


AUTHOR'S PREFACE. 


Primitive Methodist Conference did me the honour 
of appointing me to this lectureship, I felt that in 
the choice of my subject I could not do better than 
follow his lead and direct your attention to Africa, 
I was born in Africa and the happiest years of my 
maturity have been spent there. To study its 
history and its peoples has always been my delight. 
My thoughts naturally gravitate thither. And in 
these days when the problems arising from the 
contact of races and cultures cause grave concern 
to all thinking men, there are reasons why, apart 
from my personal predilections, your attention 
should be directed to Africa. I fear that my 
treatment of the subject may be summary. The 
space at my disposal does not admit of detailed 
examination of all the questions. Some indeed, 
the problems caused by the immigration of Indians, 
for example, must be passed over entirely j and 
others, such as the liquor-traffic, can be barely 
mentioned. But so far as the limits allow I shall 
endeavour to state the problems fairly and to 
indicate where in my judgment the solution is to 
be found. 

So, I beg to direct your attention to Africa, 

EDWIN W, SMITH. 


Walton-on-Thames, 
February 2yth, 1926, 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. 


I AM grateful to gentlemen, experts in their 
several departments, who after reading 
chapters of my book in manuscript have 
favoured me with valuable suggestions : to wit. 
Sir Humphrey Leggett, D.S.O., chairman for the 
past six years of the East African section of the 
London Chamber of Commerce, and Mr. H. Worsley, 
General Manager of the British Cotton Growing 
Association, who have read Chapter V ; Dr. J. 
Howard Cook, formerly of Uganda, who has read 
Chapter VI ; Sir Godfrey Lagden, sometime Resident 
Commissioner in Basutoland, who has read Chapter 
VII ; the Rev. W. W, Cash, D.S.O., author of 
The Moslem World in Revolution and general 
secretary of the Church Missionary Society, who 
has read Chapter IX ; and Major Hanns Vischer, 
secretary of the Colonial Office Advisory Committee 
on Native Education, who has read Chapter XL 
Needless to say, none of these gentlemen is 
responsible for the opinions I have expressed. My 
friends and colleagues, the Revs. J. C. Mantripp, 
C. P. Groves, B.D., and H. B. Hardy, M.A., have 
read the entire manuscript and helped me materially 


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. 


xii 


by their criticisms. I also wish to thank the able 
custodians of the magnificent library of the Royal 
Colonial Institute who have always been ready 
and courteous in their assistance. 

I ought to add that the substance of Chapter 
VIII appeared as an article in The East and The 
West for April, 1924 ; and part of Chapter X in the 
International Missionary Review for January, 1922. 
The Editors have kindly given permission for me 
to use these. 

Lastly and supremely, I thank Sir Frederick 
Lugard, who. in the midst of his abundant labours, 
has kindly given time to read the book and to write 
an Introduction, Sir Frederick’s connexion with 
Africa dates back to 1885 , when as a young soldier 
he went to the Sudan. Since then he has occupied 
many responsible positions, culminating in the 
Governor-Generalship of Nigeria. Now as a member 
of the Mandates Commission of the League of 
Nations, and in other capacities, he is doing work 
for which we all honour him. 


E. W. S. 


CONTENTS 


Page 


Foreword. By Sir F. D. Lugard vii 

Author’s Preface be 

Acknowledgments xi 


CHAPTER I. 

Wherein, for Re.asons which will Presently 
Appear, is told the Story of the Golden 
Stool of Ashanti i 

CHAPTER II. 

Wherein are set forth Some of the Conditions 
IN THE New Africa in the Form of a Contrast 
Between 1876 and 1926 18 

i. Exploration. 

ii. Partition. 

iii. Economic development. 

iv. Internal communications. 

V. The war against disease. 

vi. The extension of Christianity. 

CHAPTER III. 

Wherein our Problem is Stated in General 
Terms and an Attempt is made to Draw up 
a Debit and Credit Account 43 

i. The ancient conflict of cultures in Africa. 

ii. The rapidity of the modern invasion. 

iii. Efiect upon civilized men. 

iv. Effect upon the Africans. 

v. An interim balance sheet. 


XIV 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER IV. 

Wherein an Attempt is made to Estimate the 
African’s Worth 

i. What the Blacks have thought of the 

Whites. 

ii. What the Whites have thought of the 

Blacks. 

iii. Superstitions regarding the Africans. 

iv. The new attitude of respect. 

CHAPTER V. 

Wherein are Considered Some of the Problems 
Raised by Commerce and Industry 

i. The slave-trade and slavery. 

ii. Value of commerce and industry to the 

African. 

iii. The civilized world’s need of Africa. 

iv. Co-operation of White and Black. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Wherein are Considered the Fundamental 
Questions of Popul.ation and Land 

i. Why the population diminishes in some 

regions. 

ii. Gravity of present position and remedies. 

iii. The Land Question. 

CHAPTER VII. 

Wherein the Questions are Asked, How are the 
Africans Governed ? How Should they be 
Governed ? 

i. The example of Basutoland. 

ii. Direct and Indirect Rule. 

iii. Assimilation. 

iv. Segregation in South Africa. 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Wherein is Pictured the Disintegration of 
African Social Life and its Evil Conse- 
quences 

i. The collectivistic society and its bond. 

ii. The place of religion in African society. 

iii. The disintegrative effects of commerce. 

iv. The effect of interference with the land. 

V. The disintegrative effects of industriali- 
sation. 

vi. The effects of European government. 

vii. From collectivism to individualism. 


CHAPTER IX. 

Wherein an Attempt is made to Estimate the 
Value of Islam to the African 

i. The growth of Islam in Africa. 

ii. What can be said in favour of Islam. 

iii. What must be said on the other side. 

iv. The perils of Islam, 

v. Conclusion. 


CHAPTER X. 

Wherein is Discussed the Contribution that 
Christianity has to make towards the 
Solution of our Problems in Africa 

i. Can the Africans become Christians and 

remain Africans ? 

ii. The temporary confusion caused by 

Christian Missions. 

iii. The naturalization of Christianity in Africa. 

iv. Christianity and African society. 

V. The attitude of the Christian Church to 
African customs. 


XVI 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Wherein the Education of the African is 
Considered 

i. The problem. 

ii. Co-operation of Governments and Missions. 

iii. The aims of Education. 

iv. Education and the African’s past. 

V. Full and harmonious development. 

vi. Education of women and leaders. 

EPILOGUE 

Our Duty 

Map of Africa facing 


283 • 


314 

half-title 


THE GOLDEN STOOL 

CHAPTER I. 

Wherein, for Reasons which will Presently 
Appear, is told the Story of the Golden 
Stool of Ashanti. 

I. 

I N the interior of Gold Coast Colony, West Africa, 
lies the land of Ashanti, knowTi to our fathers 
as the seat of a fierce barbarism that had its 
centre in the capital — Kumasi. The Wesleyan 
missionary, Thomas Birch Freeman, styled it “ that 
bloody city.” 

Early in the i8th century there came to the 
court of Osai Tutu, the fourth King of Ashanti, a 
celebrated magician named Anotchi, who announced 
that he was specially commissioned by Onyame, 

Note. — My authorities for this chapter are W. W. Claridge, 
A History of the Gold Coast and Ashanti (1915) ; Ashanti, Report 
for 1921 (Colonial Reports, No. 1142) ; R. S. Rattray, Ashanti 
(1923), Chapters XXIII and XXIV. 


B 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the God of the sky, to make Ashanti a great and 
powerful nation. In the presence of the King and 
a great multitude he drew down from heaven a 
black cloud from which issued the rumblings of 
thunder and a wooden stool. The stool sank 
slowly through the air till it rested upon the King’s 
knees without touching the earth. Except for the 
gold which partially covered it, the stool was such 
as Africans commonly use. Anotchi proclaimed 
that it contained the sunsum (the soul) of the 
Ashanti people, that with it was bound up their 
power, their honour, their welfare, and that if ever 
it were captured or destroyed the nation would 
perish. 

Thereafter the Stool was cherished as the most 
sacred possession of the tribe. It was never 
allowed to touch the ground. On the rare occasions 
when it was brought out, it was placed on an 
elephant skin spread upon the ground and was 
covered with a cloth of a special kind. Not even 
the King ever sat upon it. Whenever on great 
occasions its power was evoked the King would 
pretend three times to sit upon it and would then 
seat himself upon his own stool and rest his arm 
upon the Golden Stool. Once a year it was carried 
in solemn procession, under its own umbrella and 
accompanied by its own attendants v^ho in pomp 
and number exceeded the attendants of the King 
who walked behind it. 

When, some time after the appearance of the 
Stool, the King of Denk5ura, who claimed the over- 
lordship of Ashanti, sent to collect the customary 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 3 

tribute, consisting of a brass pan filled with gold 
dust, together with the favourite wife and the 
favourite son of every chief, the Ashanti people, 
emboldened by possession of the Golden Stool, 
resisted his demands. In the war which followed, 
the King of Denkpra and his Queen were captured 
and beheaded and the golden fetters they had 
worn were taken to embellish the Golden Stool. 
Later on, the chief of a neighbouring territory 
arrogantly made for himself a replica of the sacred 
emblem. The King of Ashanti led an army against 
him, cut off his head, and melted the gold that 
adorned the rival stool. The gold was cast into 
two masks representing the face of the impious 
chief and these were hung as trophies upon the 
Golden Stool. 

As time went on the power of the King of 
Ashanti increased enormously and every victorious 
advance added to the prestige of the Golden Stool. 
The extension of their dominions brought the 
Ashantis in the early years of last century to the 
sea-coast, where English forts had been built. Much 
of the subsequent history of the contact between 
the two races must be passed over. Frequent 
conflicts took place, culminating, in 1873, in the 
march of Sir Garnet Wolseley to Kumasi. After 
capturing and burning the town he concluded 
a treaty with the King. Fourteen years later 
Prempeh became King of Ashanti and in the early 
years of his reign peace and prosperity returned. 
But in 1893 trouble arose again and because 
Prempeh would not accept a British protectorate 


B 2 


4 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


over his country, nor stop the raiding of the coast 
tribes by his people, nor grant facilities for trade, 
an expedition was sent against him under Colonel 
Sir Francis Scott, who in 1896 occupied Kumasi 
with his troops. There was no fighting on this 
occasion. Not a shot was fired. At the time 
this was put down to the promptitude with which 
the British forces carried out the operations, but 
we know now that the Ashantis feared to take the 
Golden Stool to a war in which they were sure to 
be defeated, and had therefore decided to offer no 
opposition. King Prempeh was sent into banish- 
ment from which he was not allowed to return 
until 1925. 

Men of the King’s bodyguard who were the 
custodians of the Stool carried it off into the forest 
after Prempeh’s arrest and deposited it at the 
village of Wawase, where a special hut was built 
for it. Guardians were appointed to secure its 
safety. The British resident at Kmnasi, who 
regarded the Stool as the symbol of the Ashanti 
kingly power, wished very much to gain possession 
of it, but all attempts failed to discover its where- 
abouts. 

In December, 1899, an Ashanti youth offered to 
reveal its hiding-place to Sir Frederick Hodgson, 
the Governor of the Gold Coast. A small force of 
Hausa troops went with the Governor’s private 
secretary. Captain Armitage, to bring in the trophy. 
They disguised the traitor as a soldier and when 
they came to a village put him into a hammock 
and caused porters to carry him so that he might 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


5 


pass as an invalid trooper. It is uncertain whether 
the youth had really been sent, as he professed, 
by the guardians of the Golden Stool, or whether, 
having discovered the stool, he was acting on his 
own initiative because he had some motive for 
betraying its position. Perhaps he was merely 
deceiving the Governor. However that may be, 
the nearer they approached their destination the 
greater became the nervousness of the rmhappy 
youth. One night he escaped and took refuge 
with a chief to whom he revealed the purpose of 
the expedition. Captain Armitage discovered him 
next morning, and learning what had taken place 
tried to persuade the chief that the youth was mad 
and that his ravings were not to be believed. 
Recovering their guide they went on and finally 
near a village some twenty-five miles north-east of 
Kumasi the boy led them by night along a path 
which he said would take them to the Golden 
Stool ; but his nerve failed at that point ; neither 
persuasion nor threats could induce him to guide 
the party farther, and they were compelled to 
return empty-handed. 

In March, 1900, Sir Frederick Hodgson visited 
Kumasi with the intention of clearing up the 
mystery of the Golden Stool. He summoned the 
chiefs and people to a meeting to be held on the 
28th, and they came — outwardly submissive, but 
inwardly boiling over with indignation. Captain 
Armitage’s expedition, artfully conducted as it 
was, had aroused the nation’s suspicions. It needed 
but a spark to set the land ablaze. 


6 


THE GOLDEM SfOOL. 


That spark was supplied by the Governor. He 
addressed the assembly through an interpreter, 
and, after telling them that King Prempeh would 
not be allowed to return to Ashanti, proceeded to 
make several demands, the principal being for the 
delivery of the Golden Stool. 

According to a transcript of his speech forwarded 
by him to the Colonial Secretary this is what Sir 
Frederick Hodgson said ; 

" There is one matter which I should like to talk to you 
about. I want first to ask a question of the King of 
Bekwai.* King, I want to ask you this question. You 
were put on the stool not very long ago. What would you 
have done to a man sitting on your right hand who kept 
back part of the stool equipment when you were ens tooled ? ” 

King of Bekwai : " I have no power myself ; my power is 
the government.” 

Hodgson : " Then you would have reported the matter to 
me to deal with.” 

King of Bekwai : " Yes.” 

Hodgson : " And you would have expected me either to 
get you the equipment or to punish the man ? ” 

King of Bekivai : “ Yes.” 

Hodgson : " Now, kings and chiefs, you have heard what 
the King of Bekwai has said upon the point I raised. What 
must I do to the man, whoever he is, who has failed to give 
to the Queen, who is the paramount power in this country, 
the stool to which she is entitled ? Where is the Golden 
Stool ? Why am I not sitting on the Golden Stool at this 
moment ? I am the representative of the paramount 
power ; why have you relegated me to this chair ? Why 
did you not take the opportunity of my coming to Kumasi 
to bring the Golden Stool and give it to me to sit upon ? 
However, you may be quite sure that although the Govern- 

^ This was a local chief ; they were called kings in those days. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


1 


ment has not yet received the Golden Stool at your hands, 
it will rule over you with the same impartiality and with 
the same firmness cis if you had produced it.” 

A singularly foolish speech ! An excellent ex- 
ample of the blunders that are made through 
ignorance of the African mind ! The Governor 
regarded the Stool as a kind of Stone of Scone 
upon which the kings of Ashanti were seated at 
their accession, a S5mibol of supreme authority, 
and hence, as the representative of Queen Victoria, 
he naturally expected to have it brought out as his 
throne. As a matter of fact, no King of Ashanti 
had ever sat upon it. It was held in reverence by 
the people as being, not an appurtenance of the 
kingly office, but the embodiment of the nation’s 
soul. If the Governor had known the real signifi- 
cance of the Stool in the mind of the people he would 
not have reproached the chiefs in this manner. 
This much may be said in his defence — he blundered 
in ignorance. 

The speech was received by the assembly in 
silence. But the chiefs returned home to prepare 
for war. Within a week fighting had commenced. 


II. 

The meeting described was held on March 28th. 
Three days later the Governor sent Captain 
Armitage with forty-five soldiers to get possession 
of the Golden Stool. The wretched youth already 
mentioned led the party along a faintly visible 


s 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


track in the forest and brought them to a hut 
beneath whose floor, he declared, the sacred emblem 
lay buried. It was not there, however, and 
evidently the soil had never been disturbed. The 
discomfited party set out to return to Kumasi, 
were ambushed on the road, and had to fight their 
way through. Within a very short time Kumasi 
was completely beleaguered by the insurgent 
Ashantis. Reinforcements came up from the coast 
and increased the garrison to seven hundred : 
twenty-nine Europeans, including four women, and 
the remainder native troops and camp-followers. 
Towards the end of June the Governor, with some 
European officers and 600 Hausa soldiers, fought 
his way through the besiegers to the coast, leaving 
three European officers and a hundred Hausas to 
carry on with three weeks’ rations. Not until 
July 15th did the relieving column under Colonel 
James Willcocks succeed, after a magnificent march 
from the coast amid appalling difficulties, in 
raising the siege. There is no need to dwell upon 
the terrible sufferings endured by the tiny garrison, 
most of whom were foxmd too weak to stand when 
relief arrived. Fighting went on until towards the 
end of December. The total casualties in this little 
war numbered 1,007 ^^e British side. Of our 

British officers, nine were killed, six died of disease, 
and forty-three were wotmded. How many of the 
Ashantis were killed and wounded is not known. 
What the affair cost in money I do not know. 
Certainly it was a heavy price to pay for a blunder. 

Ashanti was formally annexed as a British 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


9 


possession. In the settlement nothing was said 
about the Golden Stool. 


III. 

Twenty years later, a quarrel arose over the 
ownership of land at the village of Wawase where, 
apparently, the Stool had been hidden all this 
time. The Chief Commissioner — as the British 
official was styled — thought it well to make an 
inspection before giving a decision in the dispute. 
He had no idea, it is evident, that he was going 
to where the Stool was kept, but the guardians of 
the Stool were not convinced on this point and as 
soon as they heard of his intention of proceeding 
to Wawase they conveyed their charge secretly to 
a place called Abuabugya. 

In August, 1920, a chief named Esubonten 
desired to have a new road made between Abua- 
bugya and a neighbouring town, and the British 
Government rmdertook the work. At a certain 
point the overseer-in-charge saw that by diverting 
the road in a fresh direction the construction would 
be rendered easier. He gave his orders accordingly. 
The native headman of the place (a man named 
Danso) was greatly perturbed by this change of 
plan. As a matter of fact, he was in charge of the 
Golden Stool and had buried it thereabouts, but 
owing to the clearance of some bush, could not 
distinguish the exact spot where it lay. His fears 
were not unwarranted. One of the workmen drove 


10 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


his pick into a box hidden in the soil, and his 
exclamations of surprise drew his mates to the 
place. Danso hastened thither and tried hard to 
get them away, but their curiosity was aroused 
and it was not until he assured them that the box 
contained a smallpox fetish that they would leave 
it alone. They were, however, only half-convinced 
by what he said. 

That night Danso, with the help of some old 
men, put the Golden Stool into a tin trunk and 
carried it off to the house of a man named Yankyira. 
They took a solemn oath not to reveal the secret to 
others. But the road-makers had seen too much, 
and evidently subsequent reflection led them to 
realise what had happened. Perhaps they babbled. 
Three days later a man named Seniagya, who by 
descent was a Stool Carrier and had become a 
Christian, turned up at the village. What argu- 
ments he employed are not known, but he persuaded 
Danso and Yankyira to strip the Stool of its gold 
and golden ornaments and to share the booty with 
him. Another young man named Yogo, who 
chanced to pass at the time, claimed and received 
a share. 

The desecration of the Stool soon became known 
to the chiefs of Kumasi. They discovered that 
a certain native goldsmith had received and melted 
down one of the Golden Bells and that the Golden 
Fetters had been pawned for thirty shillings. Most 
of the rest of the gold had disappeared. 

When it gradually spread abroad the news 
caused great excitement among the people. At 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


II 


first it seemed incredible to them that their own 
fellow-countrymen should have perpetrated such 
an atrocious deed ; when they could no longer 
doubt, their anger against the impious culprits 
waxed hot and had not the police hurried the men 
off to gaol they would have been tom limb from 
limb. Wisely determining to leave the case in the 
hands of the chiefs, the Government limited its 
action to seeing fair play and to having the last 
word in determining what punishment should 
finally be inflicted upon the prisoners. 

The provincial chiefs, summoned to the capital, 
conducted a public inquiry which lasted several 
days. They invited the ministers of various 
religious denominations to be present. The result 
of the inquiry was drawn up in terms which are 
worth quoting. The court found that the men 
named — Seniagya, Danso, Yankyira, Yogo, together 
with Kujo-Roku, the goldsmith — “ being natives 
of Ashanti and subjects of the Gold Stool of the 
Ashanti nation, did expose, steal, destroy and 
otherwise unlawfully deal with and use the said 
Gold Stool, thereby betraying the said Ashanti 
nation and laying it open to disgrace and ridicule, 
and debasing the name and fame of Ashanti, much 
to the annoyance and provocation of all people, 
young and old, thereby giving occasion for dis- 
turbance and bloodshed, but for the intervention 
of Government.” 

The chiefs recommended that these men should 
be put to death, but the Government substituted 
banishment for the supreme penalty. Esubonten, 


12 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


whose duty it had been to guard the Stool, was 
found guilty of negligence and was deposed from 
his chieftainship and banished. Of eight other 
persons who were accused of buying the ornaments 
of the Stool, five were acquitted and the other 
three were ordered “ to swear fetish ” before the 
chiefs, and were fined. One of them agreed forth- 
with to pay £100 and the chiefs were so pleased by 
his ready compliance that they reduced the fine 
to £yo, one sheep and two bottles of whiskey. 

The fines having been paid, the ceremony of the 
oath followed. The “ Fetish ” was brought in, 
attended by its own retinue and carried beneath 
the umbrella that always figures in Ashanti cere- 
monials. It was treated, in fact, as if it were 
a Chief of high standing. When the expensive 
carpet covering it was removed, the “ Fetish ” was 
revealed to be a couple of brass bells of unequal 
size. They were probably bells that had been 
attached to the Golden Stool. 

Two of the chiefs came forward and after re- 
moving their head-gear, each laid a hand on a bell. 
A third chief then removed one of his sandals and 
ordered one of the guilty men to put his foot upon 
it. Placing his foot upon the man’s, the chief 
administered the oath in these terms : “I swear 
by the great oath Kromanti that if I am in 
possession of any of the ornaments of the Golden 
Stool, or have given possession of them to any 
person to hold in trust for me, may the Fetish kill 
me ! ” The chief then held the larger of the two 
bells to the man’s mouth and he touched it with 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


13 


his tongue three times while one of the attendants 
kept ringing the second bell. After invoking some 
spirit the chief placed the large bell three times on 
the man’s head, and again the other bell was rung. 
A fresh bottle of whiskey was then opened and a 
wineglassful was handed to the chief who spilt 
three drops on the ground and emptied the remainder 
on the man’s head. 

The two other men undertook to find sureties 
for the amount of the fine inflicted upon them. 


IV. 

Why, it may be asked, did not the Government, 
which in times past had tried so hard to secure 
the Golden Stool, take this opportunity of seizing 
it ? The answer to this question provides one of 
the most interesting features of the whole affair. 

In earlier days the authorities blundered through 
sheer ignorance. But recently they had appointed 
an anthropologist whose business it was to study 
Ashanti customs and beliefs, and this officer. 
Captain Rattray, a man of conspicuous ability and 
long experience, endowed with much tact and 
wholly sympathetic in his attitude towards the 
people, had investigated and reported on the 
history of the Stool. What he said enlightened the 
Government as to the true nature of the reverence 
in which the Ashantis held this ancient shrine — 
the shrine of the nation’s soul. Every native of 
Ashanti believes that a stool is the repository of a 


14 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


man’s soul. They place miniature fetters around 
the central support of a stool, “ to chain down 
the soul to it.” The Golden Stool holds the soul, 
not of any individual but of the nation. The 
idea may seem fantastic, but it can be readily 
understood why, believing as they do, the Ashantis 
revere the Stool so highly, and why they went to 
war with Britain rather than surrender it. They 
would have gone to war again in 1920 had the 
Government taken advantage of the opportunity 
to seize the Stool. From such a conflict the timely 
researches of Captain Rattray saved Britain and 
Ashanti. For, realising at last what the Stool 
stood for, the Government made it known that so 
far as it was concerned there was no longer any 
need to conceal the Stool, and that no attempt 
would be made in future to interfere, so long as 
the Ashanti did not make use of it for seditious 
purposes. 

No declaration of the British Government, 
perhaps, was ever received with such joy by the 
Ashantis as was this. 

When the women of Ashanti wished to offer 
Princess Mary a wedding present, their gift took 
the form of a Silver Stool, a replica of one that 
belonged to their principal Queen Mother. At a 
great public assembly this venerable lady presented 
it to Lady Guggisberg, the wife of the Governor, 
for transmission to the Princess. Tn her speech 
she said : 

" I place this stool in your hands. It is a gift on her 
wedding-day for the King’s child, Princess Mary. Ashanti 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


15 


stool-makers have carved it, and Ashanti silversmiths have 
embossed it. . . It may be that the King’s child has heard 
of the Golden Stool of Ashanti. That is the Stool which 
contains the soul of the Ashanti nation. All we women of 
Ashanti thank the Governor exceedingly because he has 
declared to us that the English will never again ask us to 
hand over that stool. This stool we give gladly. It does 
not contain our soul as our Golden Stool does, but it contains 
all the love of us Queen Mothers and of our women. The 
spirit of this love we have bound to the stool with silver 
fetters just as we are accustomed to bind our own spirits 
to the base of our stools. . . We pray the great God 
Nyankopon, on whom men lean and do not fall, whose day 
of worship is a Saturday and whom the Ashanti serve just 
as she serves Him, that He may give the King’s child and 
her husband long life and happiness, and finally, when she 
sits upon this silver stool, which the women of Ashanti 
have made for their white Queen Mother, may she call us 
to mind.” 


V. 

It must now be explained why this tale has been 
told at such length. The story is romantic in 
itself, but it has been told for a purpose. 

The title of this lecture will have reminded my 
readers of the famous Golden Bough. In writing 
the book which bears that title, Sir James Frazer 
started from the legend of the priesthood of Nemi — 
the beautiful lake in the neighbourhood of Rome. 
The rule of the priesthood was that whoever 
aspired to the office had first to attempt the life 
of the actual holder of it ; having slain him he 
succeeded to the office and held it until he himself 


16 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


was slain in turn by a stronger or craftier man. 
The candidate had to break off a bough from a 
certain tree which grew within the sanctuary at 
Nemi. This fateful branch, according to ancient 
opinion, was that Golden Bough which Virgil tells 
us iBneas plucked before he essayed his perilous 
journey to the world of the dead. 

It is a strange story, and the illustrious author, 
when he sought for an explanation of it, was led 
from point to point till he had filled seven large 
volumes with an enormous collection of facts — to 
say nothing of interesting theories — concerning 
primitive society and religion. 

Now the Golden Stool might lead on to as far- 
reaching an inquiry as the Golden Bough led Sir 
James Frazer. But this lecture is limited to one 
small volume. 

There is here in miniature the story of a conflict 
of cultures. People of an advanced civilization 
encounter a barbaric nation, many of whose customs 
bewilder and shock them. War ensues. The white 
men show themselves ignorant of the black man’s 
beliefs, beliefs which they label as superstitions. 
The black man treasures his ancient heritage and 
is prepared to suffer and to die rather than sur- 
render it. Blunders are committed which can only 
be remedied by the aid of anthropology. Learning 
by experience to respect the African outlook upon 
life, the British authority wins the loyalty of its 
subjects. But the African social system suffers in 
the conflict that has taken place. The King is 
deposed and his authority is invested in the British 


THE GOLDEN STOOL OF ASHANTI. 


17 


Crown. Limits are placed upon the authority of 
the native chiefs. They retain the semblance of 
power, under the supervision of the suzerain, but are 
not allowed to inflict capital punishment. Mean- 
while other forces are at work. Christianity enters 
and gains considerable influence. In the story of 
the Golden Stool, the villain of the piece is a 
Christian, who shows himself so far emancipated 
from the ancient restraints that he robs the sacred 
emblem of his nation. Here are disintegrative 
forces at work. What is taking the place of the 
old social bond now crumbling before the advance 
of the alien culture ? That new habits are being 
formed, which cannot be for the welfare of the 
people, is seen in the incongruous use of whiskey in 
an ancient religious rite. 

Thus the history of the Golden Stool brings us 
face to face with some of the many problems 
arising out of the conflict of cultures in Africa. 


C 


CHAPTER II. 


Wherein are set forth Some of the Conditions 
IN THE New Africa, in the form of a 
Contrast between 1876 and 1926. 

I. 

I N 1876, David Livingstone, “ the greatest Christian 
of the nineteenth century,” had been dead three 
years. During his lifetime, and largely through 
his own explorations and the stimulus he gave to 
other travellers, the African continent became 
known, as it had never been known before, to the 
outside world. In the early years of the century 
Arrowsmith presented the African Exploration 
Society with a map from which all hypothetical 
features had been removed and which showed the 
interior as a blank. European enterprise had been 
busy upon the West Coast since the fifteenth 
century, in South Africa since the seventeenth, 
but it was not till the thirties of last century that 
the geographical problem of the Niger was solved, 
and not until the fifties was the Zambezi explored. 
By 1873 many of the chief features of the continent 
had been revealed, but some were still obscure, 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


19 


In 1874, soon after Livingstone’s body (minus the 
heart, which remained in Africa) was laid to rest 
in Westminster Abbey, Henry M. Stanley, who 
had been fired by the news of Livingstone’s death 
with a resolution to continue his work, was asked 
by the Editor of The Daily Telegraph what remained 
to be done. He replied : “ The outlet of Lake 
Tanganyika is undiscovered. We know nothing 
scarcely — except what Speke has sketched out — 
of Lake Victoria ; we do not even know whether it 
consists of one or many lakes, and therefore the 
sources of the Nile are still unknown. Moreover, 
the western half of the African continent is still a 
white blank.” ^ Under the auspices of The Daily 
Telegraph and The New York Herald, Stanley set 
out a few weeks later to settle these problems, 
“ and to investigate and report upon the haunts of 
the slave-traders.” With one possible exception, 
namely, Livingstone’s journey across Africa in 
1853-6, Stanley’s expedition, which in 999 days 
traversed the continent from east to west, surpassed 
all others in importance for the future history of 
Africa. In June, 1876, Stanley was circumnaviga- 
ting Lake Tanganyika. When he emerged from 
the mouth of the Congo in 1877 the last of the 
great geographical secrets had been wrested from 
the Dark Continent. 

Since that date much has been done to fill in the 
details of the map. A great deal still remains to be 
accomplished in the way of accurate survey, but 

‘ H. M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent (1878), Vol. I, 
P- 3- 

C 2 


;o THE GOLDEN STOOL. 

now it can be said that Africa is known through 
and through. 


II. 

Speaking of his great journey Stanley said A 

" I declare solemnly to you that, from a distance of ten 
miles from Bagamoyo, my starting place on the east coast 
of Africa, until I sighted an English flag at the mast-head 
of a merchant river steamer on the Congo, along a journey 
of 7,600 miles, I never saw a flag, or an emblem, or symbol, 
flagstaff, erection of wood, stone or iron, to indicate that 
I had come across civilized, or semi-civilized, power or 
authority ; the authority I encountered everywhere being 
the authority of independent native chiefs, exacting tribute 
on the eastern half, and opposing violence on the western 
half.” 

In this respect the map of Africa presents a very 
striking contrast to-day. In 1876 the modern 
scramble which has resulted in parcelling out 
almost the entire continent among the Powers of 
Europe was only on the eve of beginning. 

This, in brief, was the situation in 1876. Egypt 
was still under the suzerainty of Turkey ; the 
country was bankrupt and this year saw the be- 
ginning of the Dual Control which lasted with some 
interruption for six years, when France retired 
and Great Britain was left alone to pursue, through 
Lord Cromer, the beneficent work which trans- 
formed Egypt into a prosperous country. From 

1 At the Berlin Conference. H. M. Stanley, The Congo and 
the Founding of its Free State (1885), Vol, II, p. 411. 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


about 1819 Egyptian authority had been extending 
south along the Nile up to the Albert Nyanza. 
The Mahdi had not yet appeared on the scene, but 
the slave-trading and misgovemment against which 
General Gordon, then in Egyptian service as 
Governor-General of the Sudan, was heroically and 
vainly struggling, were sowing the seeds of the 
revolt which broke out in 1881. 

In 1876 the Suez Canal had been opened seven 
years. This was an event of the highest conse- 
quence for the future development of East Africa, 
since the protection of the great line of communi- 
cation between the metropolis and India became 
of paramount interest in British policy. 

Italy had not set foot on African soil in 1876. 
Tripolitania and Tunisia (later to come under the 
control respectively of Italy and France) still 
fonned part of the Ottoman Empire. 

Of all the European Powers France only at that 
time had embarked upon a policy of appropriation 
with definite ends in view. Ever since she had 
lost her colonies in the Napoleonic wars her eyes 
had been fixed on Africa as the region which 
afforded the best opportunities of regaining an 
Empire. In 1830 she began to take possession of 
Algeria — an acquisition which, up to 1864, is said 
to have cost her 150,000 men and £ 120 , 000 , 000 . 
With the appointment in 1854 of General Faidherbe 
as Governor of Senegal began the era of conquest 
which has secured to France the largest share of 
North Africa — a conquest which the French regard 
as the means for creating a more harmonious 


22 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


order. France had also secured ports on the Red 
Sea. Her policy received fresh impetus when after 
the war of 1870 she felt greater need of recouping 
herself in Africa for her losses in Europe. 

As early as 1415, Portugal had begun the modern 
partition of Africa by the capture of Ceuta ; she 
had built forts on the West Coast in the 15th 
century and had established herself on the East 
Coast in the i6th. In 1876 she held territory at 
Cape Verde on the West Coast, and along the 
shores of Angola south of the Congo. By arbitra- 
tion she had secured in 1875 the very useful port 
of Delagoa Bay. 

In 1876 Spain was in possession, as now, of 
Fernando Po. 

The only other European flag which flew over 
African soil in 1876 was the Union Jack, For 
the previous eighty years British explorers had 
been busy on the Niger, but no territory in the 
interior had been occupied. Only small patches at 
Sierra Leone, on the Gambia and on the Gold Coast, 
and the port of Lagos were in British possession. 
Great Britain had no intention, no desire, to extend 
her dominions in West Africa. The policy formu- 
lated by a Parliamentary Committee in 1865 was 
still in force : all further extension of territory or 
assumption of government, or new treaty offering 
any protection to native tribes, was held to be 
inexpedient. In South Africa, the borders of Cape 
Colony did not extend much beyond the Orange River. 
The area of the diamond fields around Kimberley 
was acquired in 1876 by arrangement with the 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


23 


Boers and Griquas. Cecil Rhodes had then been 
six years in Africa, and, in the intervals of making 
money out of diamonds, was dreaming of painting 
red most of the map of the world. Bechuanaland 
had not yet come under British rule, nor Zululand, 
nor the Transkeian territories. Basutoland had 
been taken under our protection in 1868. Natal 
was a British colony, but south of the island of 
Socotra which was occupied in 1876 there was no 
other British possession along the east coast. 

The two Dutch republics, the Orange Free State 
and the Transvaal, were independent in 1876. So 
were Liberia and Abyssinia. 

To sum up. The total area controlled by 
Europeans in 1876 did not exceed one-tenth of the 
continent. All the rest of Africa was held by 
independent African, or semi-African, states and 
tribes. Now, in 1926, barely one-tenth of Africa 
is free from European domination. Indeed if we 
remember that the republic of Liberia is controlled 
financially by the United States, and that Egypt, 
while nominally a sovereign power, is still garrisoned 
by British troops, we must conclude that Abyssinia, 
covering an area of 350,000 square miles, is the 
only entirely independent State left in Africa. 

How this startling change has taken place during 
the fifty years since 1876 has often been told,^ 
and the story need not be repeated here at any 
length. Stanley’s great journey precipitated the 

^ See J. S. Keltie, The Partition of Africa {1893 + ); Sir E. 
Hertslet, The Map of Africa by Treaty (3rd Edition, 1909) ; 
Sir H. H. Johnston, A History of the Colonisation of Africa 
by alien races (1899), The Opening tjp of Africa (1911). 


H 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


scramble. King Leopold took the initiative by 
calling the Brussels Conference of 1876 — a conference 
which might have led to international agreement 
and to something like a system of Mandates such 
as regulate the holding of the late German colonies 
to-day under the League of Nations. An Inter- 
national African Association was actually formed, 
but it soon became evident that each nation would, 
like Hal o’ the Wynd, fight for its own hand. The 
Congo State, founded for the International Associ- 
ation, became, for all intents and purposes, the 
private domain of King Leopold, and its government 
a scandal to Christendom until Belgium took it 
over as a colony. Germany, unified after the war 
of 1870 and enriched with a rapidly developing 
industry, entered suddenly into the scramble by 
raising her flag, first in Damaraland and then in 
East Africa in 1884. By this action France was 
spurred to fresh activities. Great Britain saw that 
if she did not bestir herself she would be left behind 
in the race, and urged on by commercial companies, 
missionary societies and enterprising individuals, 
intervened at last — tardily, but very effectively. 
Portugal awoke out of a long period of dormancy 
and succeeded in establishing some of her fanciful 
claims based upon real and alleged discoveries in 
the past. Italy came in later and acquired Eritrea, 
part of Somaliland, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. 
Her ambitions concerning Abyssinia met with a 
rude check on the battlefield of Dogali in 1887. 
Spain also entered into the competition and gained 
70,000 square miles of the Sahara and the region 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


25 


on the Muni river, south of the Cameroons. Later 
her protectorate was recognized over a narrow 
strip of Morocco which in recent years has cost her 
heavily in men, money and prestige. 

The motives underlying this partition of Africa 
need not be described here at any length : we shall 
understand them better when we have reached a 
later chapter of this book. A French writer says 
that the European invasion was guided one-tenth 
by civilizing zeal and nine-tenths by the bait of 
gain. Commercial, strategical and philanthropic 
reasons entered into it. It must be remembered 
that in the nineteenth century the population of 
Europe increased threefold, and that this meant 
an enlarged demand for food, for more abundant 
supplies of raw materials, and for new markets for 
the products of the factories. The improving 
standard of living led to a call for such luxuries — 
pneumatic tyres on cycles and cars, for example — 
as only the tropics could supply. No government 
could allow traders to enter the almost unknown 
and savage lands of Africa without affording them 
protection ; nor could any humane government 
allow the peoples of Africa to be exploited by 
uncontrolled and irresponsible European citizens. 
To such considerations must be added the fact 
that the conscience of Europe had been aroused 
to the iniquity of the slave-trade, and it soon 
became apparent that the healing of this open sore 
of the world (as Livingstone called it) could not be 
accomplished by treaties made in Brussels or 
Berlin, nor by patrolling the coasts with gun- 


26 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


boats ; there must be active intervention in the 
interior, which again meant commerce and govern- 
ment control. Cynics may sneer at this alleged 
philanthropic motive, and it cannot be denied that 
sometimes it has been little more than a cloak for 
sinister deeds, but it was a real motive. Humani- 
tarian and religious sentiment has generally sup- 
ported intervention. At certain critical moments 
the Christian public of England urged their govern- 
ment with persistence and success along this path. 
It cannot be denied that other motives have been 
operant. The French have undoubtedly been 
stimulated by a consciousness that North Africa 
supplies fine recruits to supplement her decreasing 
man-power for the defence of her home frontiers. 

Whatever the motives, and whatever the results, 
the last fifty years have drawn Africa into the orbit 
of European politics. For good or evil, the vast 
majority of African peoples has been brought 
under the sway of white men. 


III. 

Commerce has been referred to and we must 
return to it later. Here it will be sufficient to note 
that the opening up of Africa by the explorers, 
great and small, has revealed the vast wealth, actual 
and potential, of the continent. It is now known 
that it is far from being what Defoe said of it, 
“ the most desolate, desert and inhospitable country 
in the world, even Greenland and Nova Zembla 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


2 ? 


not excepted.” On the contrary, its mineral and 
agricultural opulence makes it one of the most 
valuable quarters of the globe. During these fifty 
years much has been done to turn its resources to 
account — and only a beginning has been made as 
yet. A few figures to show the growth of commerce 
with Africa are all that are needed here to point 
th^ contrast between 1876 and 1926. It is said 
that in 1815 the total value of the commerce 
(including slaves) did not exceed ;^30,ooo,ooo. Of 
this amount the exports formed one-half, and fifty 
per cent, of them came from Egypt and other 
Mediterranean countries. In 1876 these figures 
were doubled. In 1925 the total value of the 
commerce was not less than £600,000,000. 

It can with safety be foretold that this striking 
increase in the economic value of Africa to the 
outside world will grow more and more in years 
to come. 


IV. 

When my parents landed at Algoa Bay, South 
Africa, in May, 1874, it took them, with delays on 
the road, twenty-six days to reach Aliwal North by 
coach — a distance of 300 miles. In 1876, the year 
of my birth, only 109 miles of railway were open 
in Cape Colony and only a short narrow-gauge line 
of two miles (the first railway in Africa) in Natal. 
The other railways in Africa at that time were the 
Egyptian (less than 1,000 miles), and the Algerian 


28 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


(about 300 miles). At present there are some 
35,000 miles of railways in the whole continent. 

These lines have been built partly for strategic 
or military purposes, but mainly to provide high- 
ways for commerce. The mines have acted as 
magnets, drawing the railways farther inland. The 
revolution that they have caused in the life of Africa 
is beyond all measurement. 

Let us visualise one picture. 

Here in 1876 is Henry M. Stanley crossing the 
continent from Zanzibar to the mouth of the 
Congo. He travels on foot, except when he can 
launch on some lake or navigable river the teak- 
wood boat which his men carry laboriously in 
sections. He engages 300 men to carry 18,000 
pounds weight of stores — beads, wire, medicines, 
provisions, calico, tents, and other articles. With 
the wives of some of the men and a small armed 
escort, his attendants number 356 in all — very few 
of whom will survive to see their homes again : 
death by disease, accident, and hostile spears will 
take the majority. At an average rate of seven 
miles a day they reach the southern shore of Lake 
Victoria, after passing through thirst and famine 
belts, and encountering what Stanley calls “ bellicose 
exhibitions ” on the part of unfriendly natives who 
try to block his way. After visiting Uganda, he 
strikes south to circumnavigate Lake Tanganyika, 
and thence crosses to Nyangwe on the Congo — 
the point at which Livingstone was compelled to 
turn back. He constructs canoes, launches his 
boat, mans them with the remnant of his followers. 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


29 


and boldly strikes out along the unknown highway 
which no white man has ever travelled before. 
Whenever they reach the rapids the little fleet is 
painfully hauled over the rocks and lavinched again. 
Now they paddle between banks lined with cannibals 
who shout, Meat ! Meat ! and then pursue them 
in their canoes. Stanley fought thirty-two small 
battles on the Congo, the only alternative being, 
as Holman Bentley said, “ to walk quietly into 
their cooking-pots and submit to dissection and 
the processes of digestion.” So he wins his way 
with indomitable energy and all the while he is 
dreaming. Looking upon the undeveloped wealth 
of the country, the fine promise of some tribes, 
the hideous barbarity of others, he sees visions of 
a time when “ all the land will be redeemed from 
wildness, the industry and energy of the natives 
stimulated, the havoc of the slave-trade stopped 
and all the countries round about permeated with 
the nobler ethics of a higher humanity.” What 
Africa needed, he said, was railways — he called 
them “ a tramway ” — to be “ an iron bond, never 
to be again broken, between Africa and the more 
favoured continents.” 

Finally, Stanley and his followers stumble, 
haggard, crippled, diseased, to the Atlantic shore, 
after 999 days of travel. That was in 1877. Any 
tourist of to-day who wishes with a minimum of 
fatigue to cross Africa from west to east, or from 
east to west, will have a choice of easy routes. 
He can accomplish the journey with no more 
exertion than is involved in walking from one 


30 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


vehicle to another — and in something less than a 
month. If he wishes to go from Cape to Cairo, 
it will take longer, but it will be scarcely more 
arduous ; by railway, motor car and river steamer 
he can cover the 7,000 miles in forty-five days,^ 
if he is lucky enough to catch all the connections. 
He will probably grumble if a shower-bath and 
plenty of ice are not available every day ! 

It should be added that the motor-car is playing 
an enormous part in the opening up of Africa. 
Even the Sahara is being conquered by it. In 
1922-3 two Frenchmen drove a car from Algeria 
to Timbuktu ; in 1924 another Frenchman made 
the journey in sixty-four hours. Early in 1925 
six cars crossed the Sahara, from Tunis to Lake 
Chad ; and another French expedition traversed 
Africa, at almost its broadest part, from Donakry 
on the Atlantic to Massawa on the Red Sea, a 
distance of nearly 3,750 miles. In December, 1924, 
startling advertisements appeared in the papers 
inviting us to cross the Sahara in comfort ; “ London 
to Timbuktu in twelve days ! Enjoy the most 
wonderful of journeys and the most thrilling of 
holidays ! ” and although this tourist scheme had 
to be abandoned on account of threatened raids by 
desert nomads, nobody doubts that the desert has 
been conquered, so far as motor-transport is con- 
cerned. The camel has had his day in the north, 
as the ox-M^agon has had its day in the south. In 


* South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1925, 
p.'^362. As the crowjflies the distance is about 4,200 miles. 
This route is fia, Albertville, Mwanza, etc. 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


31 


1925 a gallant French officer and his wife motored 
across the continent from Algiers to Cape Town 
and an English officer and his wife from Cape 
Town to Cairo. Ten thousand cars a year are 
imported into South Africa. Nearly every farmer 
of importance possesses one and can get about easily : 
a fact which facilitates the exchange of ideas and 
stimulates progress — or the reverse. Everywhere 
in Africa the petrol-driven car is working a quiet 
(or perhaps not altogether quiet) revolution in 
travelling and transport of goods. ^ 

The aeroplane has also invaded Africa. In 1919 
an air route was laid out by British officers between 
Cairo and Cape Town, aerodromes being built at 
twenty-four places. The following year two gallant 
South African officers (Van Ryneveld and Brand) 
flew over the route in seventy-two hours, forty 
minutes. During the winter of 1925-6 Mr. Alan 
Cobham, who had already proved it possible to 
breakfast in London and dine in Africa on the same 
day, accomplished the flight from England to Cape 
Town in ninety “ flying hours,” and flew back 
from Cape Town to Cairo in nine and a half days. 
In 1902 it took Mrs. Smith and myself fifty-three 
days to travel from Bulawayo to the Zambezi in 
an ox-wagon ; Mr. Cobham covered the same 
distance, in the reverse direction, in two hours, 
forty minutes. In 1925 a scheme was launched 
by which it is hoped eventually to bring East 
Africa within six days of London, by way of the 
Nile. The first regular African air-service was 
established on the Congo, between Stanley Pool 


32 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


and Stanleyville, a distance of i,ooo miles, in 1921. 
The aeroplane has already been pressed into the 
service of the Missions. We may live to see our 
missionaries carried from London to the Kafue by 
aeroplane or airship. 

The telegraph has also been extended in Africa. 
Its range in 1876 was extremely limited. By 1903 
it had been carried northward from Cape Town to 
Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. Since then it has gone 
south from Egypt across the Sudan and penetrated 
in all directions. In 1876 Stanley was out of the 
world when he reached the Victoria Nyanza. In 
1914, the very day war broke out, two British 
officers were killed there in battle in response to 
telegraphic orders from London and Berlin to 
commence hostilities. 

And “ wireless,” which during the war played 
a prominent part in Africa, is now breaking down 
the isolation of life in the interior. Already at the 
time of writing (early in 1925) news comes that in 
Nyasaland they are listening-in to places in South 
Africa. People in Nigeria hear songs that are sung 
in London. What will it not mean to solitary 
exiles to be able to hear a concert, or sermon, 
broadcasted from England ? It is theoretically 
possible, if not as yet practicable, for my old 
colleagues in Northern Rhodesia to listen to this 
lecture delivered in Manchester. This certainly was 
never dreamt of in 1876 ! 

The continent of Africa has shrunk to smaller 
dimensions — reckoned in time, 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


33 


V. 

Another most important fact must be noticed : 
the progress that has been made in conquering 
African diseases. Here again an effective contrast 
may be drawn between 1876 and 1926. 

The early records of West Africa make very 
depressing reading. In 1823 seven schoolmasters, 
five of them accompanied by their wives, landed at 
Sierra Leone (well-named “ the White Man’s 
Grave ”), in the service of the Church Missionary 
Society ; six out of the twelve died that year, and 
four more within eighteen months. In twenty-five 
years, 109 men and women died on that mission. 
The Wesleyan Mission on the Gold Coast went 
through similar experiences : the first man who was 
sent out in 1835 died within six months, the next 
two within four months, and the next two within 
a month. The ill-fated Niger Expedition of 1841 
tost forty-two men out of 150 within two months. 

This heavy mortality has continued into more 
recent times. A grim story (perhaps apocryphal) 
is told of a newly-appointed Governor of one of 
the West Coast possessions, who, being a careful 
man, asked whether the government would pay 
his fare home when his time expired. After some 
delay he was told that the question had never 
previously arisen. Canon Robinson tells that when 
he was on the Niger in 1894 the average length of 
a white man’s life was reckoned at two years. Miss 
Kingsley, writing of about the same period, ^ 

^ Mary Kingsley, Travels in West Africa (1897), pp. 681, 690. 

D 


34 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


declared that there was no other region in the 
world that could match West Africa for the steady 
kill, kill, kill that its malaria worked on the white 
men ; eighty-five per cent, of them, she reckoned, 
died of fever or returned home with their health 
permanently wrecked. ^ The West Coast perhaps, 
provides the extreme example of the unhealthiness 
of Africa, but in varying degrees much the same 
must be said concerning other tropical portions of 
the continent : they have levied a very heavy toll 
on the white race. To adapt Rudyard Kipling — 
“ If blood be the price of Empire, we ha’ bought 
it fair.” “ The ruby crown that Britannia wears 
is jewelled with British blood.” 

It is a truth that makes one glow with pride that 
even in those deadly times, there was never any 
lack of men and women to answer the call of duty — 
whether traders, officials, soldiers, or missionaries. 
When in the fifties John Bowen was chosen as 
Bishop of Sierra Leone — ^where his two predecessors 
had died within two years of their consecration — 
and some of his friends urged him to refuse, he 
replied : “If I served in the Queen’s army and 
refused to go to a post of danger I should be dis- 

1 Roman Catholic missionaries are expected to stay out on 
the West Coast at least ten years at a time. A pamphlet 
pubhshed some seven or eight years ago entitled, “ The Epic 
of the Dark Continent,” said, “ The terrible death-rate of our 
own Irish priests and nuns in that fateful area helps one to 
understand why thirty-five is the average limit of the workers’ 
lives.” Since missionaries do not go out much before they are 
twenty-five, it would appear that in reality ten years were the 
average expectation of life by the Roman Catholic missionaries 
on the West Coast. West Africa, September 5th, 1925. 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 35 

graced in the eyes of men. Were I offered a 
bishopric in England, I might feel at liberty to 
decline it ; one in Sierra Leone, I must accept.” 
Two years later he was dead. This is typical of 
the spirit that has made possible the penetration 
of Africa. 

What is the cause of this heavy mortality amongst 
white men in tropical Africa ? It has generally 
been ascribed to “ climate ” and the “ climate ” of 
Africa has been held to be so bad as to rule out any 
prospect of successful European colonization, so far 
as the tropics are concerned. Mr. Benjamin Kidd 
said in 1898, “ the attempt to acclimatize the white 
man in the tropics must be recognized to be a 
blunder of the first magnitude. All experiments 
based upon the idea are mere idle and empty enter- 
prises foredoomed to failure.”^ But much research 
has been carried on since that time, and, while few 
would presume to dogmatise on the subject, the 
trend of expert opinion^ seems to be towards the 
conclusion that not climatic factors — heat, humidity 
combined with heat, tropical sunshine — but rather 
disease is the obstacle in the white man’s path. 
And the discovery of paramount importance that 
has marked the last fifty years is that these tropical 
diseases are preventable. The discoveries as to 
malarial fever, for example, which date from about 
1897 and are due to such benefactors of the human 
race as Laveran, Manson and Ross, have entirely 

^Benjamin Kidd, The Control of the Tropics (1898), p. 48. 

’ J. W. Gregory, The Menace of Colour (1925), Chapter VIII, 
“ Can the white man colonize in the tropics ? ” 


D 2 


36 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


altered the prospects of life in Tropical Africa 
We are now aware of the simple truth that if a 
man is never bitten by a mosquito he will never 
suffer from malaria : and the problem of living in 
the tropics has largely resolved itself into the 
problem of getting rid of or circumventing the 
particular mosquito which conveys the infection. 

Other diseases endemic in the tropics, the presence 
of which is one of the chief causes of the Africans’ 
backwardness, are under investigation, with prom- 
ising results. It is now known that leprosy and 
sleeping sickness are, to some extent at least, 
curable and that the latter is preventable ; yaws 
and syphilis can be cured ; smallpox has been 
eradicated wherever vaccination has been practic- 
able ; typhoid fever and dysentery are known to 
be avoidable by inoculation ; ankylostomiasis and 
other parasitic diseases can be prevented. 

The impression must not be conveyed that Africa 
has been turned into a health resort. Far from it. 
But proof is forthcoming that wherever sanitary 
measures founded upon these modern discoveries 
have been properly taken, there the rate of mortality 
among Europeans in Africa and among Africans 
themselves has decreased considerably. West 
African conditions have changed so greatly that Sir 
Gordon Guggisberg, the Governor of the Gold 
Coast, was able in 1924 to say ; “ If statistics don’t 
lie West Africa is a healthier place than London.” 
Probably he did not intend this to be taken au pied 
de la lettve, for in another place ^ he declared that 
* Sir Gordon Guggisberg, The Keystone (1924). p. lo. 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 37 

“ the married European with children has not and 
never will have a real home life in West Africa.” 
This, of course, is the vital question : can Europeans 
live in Tropical Africa, maintain their physical 
and moral vigour, and rear families there equal in 
stamina to the parent stock, in the neighbourhood 
of black people of a much lower standard of civili- 
sation ? This remains to be proved, or disproved, 
but the statement is warranted that in view of 
physiological discoveries that have been made, and 
that are still being made, it is hazardous to affirm 
that white men can never acclimatize in Tropical 
Africa. At any rate, so far as disease is concerned, 
there seems to be no insuperable reason why that 
region should not become the home of a vigorous 
European population — if only they will obey the 
laws of health.^ 


VI. 

Henry M. Stanley’s starting point on his trans- 
continental journey of 1874-7 was Zanzibar, where 
he found Bishop Steere at work “ almost single- 
handed ” and where the Cathedral Church was 
already built on the site of the old slave-market. 
At Bagamoyo, on the mainland opposite Zanzibar, 
a Roman Catholic mission was founded, but from 
that point onward he encountered neither missionary 
nor mission station. Had he taken the northerly 
route to Victoria Nyanza he would have found two 
or three stations near the coast, but no more. 

But compare pp. 63 , sqq., infra. 


38 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Now, as for some years past, a chain of mission 
stations extends from the east to the west coasts 
with but a break of three hundred miles in the 
centre, and by the time this lecture is printed, it 
is possible that this gap will have been closed. 
Krapf’s seventy-year-old dream of an Apostles’ 
Way across Africa will then have been fulfilled. 

One day, when they were paddling down the 
Congo in January, 1877, Stanley’s English com- 
panion, Francis Pocock, began to sing sadly : 

" The home land, the fair land, 

Refuge for all distressed. 

Where pain and sin ne’er enter in, 

But all is peace and rest.” 

Stanley bade him choose some more cheerful tune, 
so he sang : 

“ Brightly gleams our banner. 

Pointing to the sky. 

Waving wanderers onward 
To their home on high.” 

These were the first Christian hymns sung (so 
far as there is any record) on the Congo. It was 
not until two years later (1879) that the Baptists 
commenced their mission near the coast in Congo- 
land. In subsequent years they worked their way 
into the centre ; in 1926 they report one hundred 
and two foreign agents ; 914 African workers (679 
of them paid by the Native Church) ; a Christian 
community of 33,889 ; 992 elementary and other 
schools (including four training and eleven industrial 
institutions) with 28,335 scholars. Many of these 
converts were gathered from among the tribesmen 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


39 


who in 1877 greeted Stanley with their cannibal 
cry, “ Meat ! Meat ! ” There are many other 
missions at work in this region. 

An even more remarkable change has taken place 
in Uganda. In 1875 Stanley taught the king, 
Mtesa, his first lessons in Christianity, and fondly 
believed that he had made a convert of him. “ Oh ! 
that some pious, practical missionary would come 
here ! ” he wrote in his journal. “ Here, gentlemen, 
is your opportunity ! ” He entrusted a letter to a 
Belgian officer, who was travelling home from 
Uganda, appealing for a mission to be established 
in the country — a letter which was found on the 
murdered body of this officer, forwarded to England 
by General Gordon, and published in The Daily 
Telegraph on November 15, 1875. A week later — 
they wasted no time in those days — the Church 
Missionary Society accepted the challenge, and in 
April, 1876, Alexander Mackay and the rest of the 
first party started on the long, wearisome journey 
to Uganda. In 1884 there were thirty-eight 
Baganda Christians. To-day, in the whole Pro- 
tectorate of Uganda there are 500,000 Christians, 
Protestant and Catholic. The Anglicans have 400 
schools, with 117,000 scholars ; 2,000 places of 
worship ; and a native clergy — canons and rural 
deans among them. 

In October, 1875, the pioneers of the Livingstonia 
Mission steamed into Lake Nyasa. When the 
Jubilee was celebrated in 1925 the Mission reported 
a European staff of seventy-seven, a native staff 
of 1,120, not including 1,551 teachers, a Christian 


40 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


community of 58,861, 772 schools, 43.492 primary 
and middle school pupils, besides 126 college and 
High School students. One member of the original 
band — Dr. Laws — still remains at his post. Few 
living men have witnessed such changes as he has 
seen in the life of a people. They are so great 
and have come so rapidly that the younger genera- 
tion know nothing of what things were like in their 
fathers’ days. When the Livingstone film was 
shown in Blantyre last year, with its realistic 
pictures of slave-raiding, of the burning of villages, 
of the long lines of victims marching with yokes 
on their necks, it all seemed as remote to them as 
it did to English people. Only a few were old 
enough to remember the horrors of those days. 

The Nyasaland mission of the Church of Scotland 
reports over 15,000 baptized Christians, and 300 
schools with 15,000 scholars. 

The story of the penetration of Africa by Christian 
missions cannot be continued further in these 
pages. The progress made is remarkable. In 1876 
Christian missions had more or less occupied South 
Africa. In North Africa practically nothing had 
been done to win the Moslem population — the 
North African Mission was not started till 1876. 
Along the West Coast, from the Gambia to the 
Congo, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, 
Lutherans, and Baptists were at work. The 
Primitive Methodists had succeeded the Baptists 
on the island of Fernando Po in 1870. None of 
the missions had penetrated far into the interior. 
The Christianization of the continent can hardly 


CONDITIONS IN THE NEW AFRICA. 


41 


be said to have begun fifty years ago. The progress 
that these years have witnessed is so great that 
Sir Harry Johnston, one of the greatest living 
authorities on Africa, is justified in saying : “ before 
long, so energetic are the missionaries, the whole 
of Central Africa will have been Christianized, 
excepting along the east coast where the Arab 
influence is too strong to be uprooted.”^ 

Testimony to this remarkable advance is borne 
by the records of Bible translation in Africa. In 
1876 some portion of Holy Scripture had been 
translated into fifty of the languages : to be exact, 
the whole Bible into seven, the New Testament 
into nine others, some book of Scripture, or books, 
into twenty-three, and selected passages into eleven 
more. In 1926 translations have grown to 244, of 
which 180 appear on the British and Foreign Bible 
Society’s list. The figure is made up as follows : 
twenty-eight complete versions of the Bible, and 
fifty-nine New Testaments ; some book or books 
in 138 other languages, and selected passages in 
nineteen more. That is to say, 194 translations 
have been issued since 1876. During the last fifty 
years, an average of nearly four new versions has 
been published every twelve months. An aston- 
ishing result when it is remembered that the 
existence of most of these languages was unknown 
in 1876. Moreover, an examination of the list in 
1876 reveals the fact that, as might be expected, 
the languages in which translations had been made 

1 Sir H. H. Johnston, The Backward Peoples and our Relations 
with them (1920), p. 29. 


42 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


were almost entirely spoken in the coastal regions. 
Languages of the far interior were absent from 
the list. Now every part of the continent is 
represented. 

This extension of Christianity is not the least 
significant of the points of contrast between 1876 
and 1926. 


CHAPTER III. 


Wherein our Problem is Stated in General 
Terms and an Attempt is Made to Draw 
UP A Debit and Credit Account. 


I. 

W HAT do the facts set out in Chapter II mean 
to the Africans ? It can be said, in general, 
that European activities during the last 
fifty years have created a new environment for 
them. The white man has arrived and has dug 
himself in. Year by year it is becoming less possible 
for the African to live in isolation from the outside 
world. 

An American anthropologist speaks of Africa as 
having been from the earliest times “ the battle- 
ground between the lighter and darker races.” ^ 
Whether it was the cradle of the human race as 
some experts assert may be a matter for argument, 
but there is every reason to believe that a very 
large portion of the continent was in Palaeolithic 
times the home of ancestors of the Negroes of 
to-day. Then, perhaps twenty-five thousand years 

‘ R. B. Dixon, The Racial History of Man (1923), p. 190. 


44 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


ago, perhaps ten thousand years ago, invaders 
belonging to the Caspian type, “ white ” men, 
began to enter Africa from the north-east, to blend 
with, or displace, the Negroes of the Nile valley, 
and to permeate large regions of north and central 
Africa with their superior culture A Egypt had 
become a “ white ” man’s country seven thousand 
years ago. How far the astonishing civilization of 
Egypt influenced the rest of the continent we do 
not yet know with any certainty, but there are 
indications that it permanently affected some remote 
African peoples. Unmistakable evidence of this 
is to be found in Nigeria. ^ The Fulani, whose 
origin is wrapt in mystery, trace to Egypt their 
fashion of hairdressing, and it is an interesting fact 
that the long side-locks which they wear are almost 
identical with those pictured on Egyptian and 
Cretan monuments. Certain burial practices, 
beliefs about the soul, the manufacture of glass, 
and many other things in Nigeria and elsewhere 
all seem to point to Egypt — though in these matters 
we may yet come to the conclusion that the 
Egyptians derived more from the Negroes than the 
Negroes derived from the Egyptians. Carthaginian 
merchants traversed the Sahara and while trading 
with the peoples of the Niger undoubtedly intro- 
duced elements of their civilization. The Yoruba 
tribes of Nigeria claim descent from them. There 
are traditions which seem to indicate a Persian 

* Sir H. H. Johnston, The Opening up of Africa (1911), 
Chapters I-IV. 

* C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria {1925), Vol. II, 
pp. 160, sqq. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


45 


invasion of West Africa, and some anthropologists 
explain the apparent mongoloid elements in certain 
African tribes by imagining that Chinese led expe- 
ditions into the Sudan. More possibly the Romans 
left some traces of themselves during their incursions. 
It is difficult not to see the civilizing hand of 
Phoenicians or other pre-Islamic Semites in the 
stone buildings of Southern Rhodesia and their 
associated gold-diggings and irrigation works. Still 
later, in the seventh century of our era, came the 
Arabian followers of Muhammad who profoundly 
affected the African culture wherever they pene- 
trated. 

The extent of this foreign influence must not be 
exaggerated, but all these movements prove that 
before the European invasion Africa had not been 
completely isolated from the world outside. Neither 
the barren wastes of the Sahara (at one time very 
much less barren than now), nor the dense Equa- 
torial forests, nor the sudd of the Nile, have proved 
insuperable barriers to the immigration of foreigners 
of more advanced culture than the Negro. What- 
ever may have been the colour of their skin, many 
of these invaders are classified “ white ” by anthro- 
pologists. To this day certain of the peoples of 
Africa are as much “ white ” as “ black.” The 
Bantu, who cover an immense area south of the 
Sudan, are differentiated from the true Negroes 
largely by the trace of Caucasian blood that they 
inherit. Many of the languages and much of the 
culture of the Africans are shot through with 
foreign elements. The conflict of cultures we are 


46 THE GOLDEN STOOL. 

witnessing to-day is in fact no new thing. The 
ancient infiltration was, however, spasmodic and 
partial, compared with the modern. The events 
of the past fifty years have more profoundly 
influenced the African than the events of any 
previous thousand or even ten thousand years. 

It is with this modern phase of the age-long 
impact of the white man upon the black that this 
book is concerned. 


II. 

The startling and bewildering feature of this 
modern invasion of Africa is the rapidity with 
which it is being effected. We are not speaking of 
a gradual permeation extending over hundreds and 
thousands of years, but of changes that have taken 
place within the lifetime of many — changes that 
are going on under our eyes at this moment. 

Three or four brief sketches will suffice to illustrate 
what is meant. 

In 1896 British officers saw the grove at Kumasi 
where the remains of human sacrifices were flung ; 
“ the ground here was found covered with skulls 
and bones of hundreds of victims.”^ King 
Prempeh,^ exiled after the war of 1895-6, i*etumed 
in 1925 as a private citizen and a Christian to the 
city which no longer deserves the epithet “ bloody ” ; 
he who once presided over human sacrifices now 

1 R. S. S. Baden- Powell, The Downfall of Prempeh (1898), 
p. 24. “ See ante, p. 4. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


47 


serves on a sanitary board and takes the chair at 
missionary meetings in the Wesleyan Church. He 
may well have gasped with astonishment as he 
drove in a motor car around the place, looking in 
vain for old landmarks. He saw fine parks which 
have taken the place of malarious swamps. “ A 
‘ Burlington Arcade ’ of European shops, with 
residential fiats above, now stands on ground where 
twenty years ago naked savages still led the life 
of primitive man.”i Passing along a street adorned 
with buildings that would not disgrace the more 
popular thoroughfares of London or Paris you may 
see African gentlemen possessed of legal, medical 
or theological degrees won at British or American 
universities, and African ladies dressed in London 
or Paris frocks, tripping along in silken stockings 
and high -heeled shoes. The older generation is 
there too — grey-haired Ashanti aristocrats lookmg 
like Roman senators in bronze, dressed in their 
beautifully woven locally-made togas ; men who 
once took part in some of the terrible deeds under 
the old regime. 2 A Wesleyan chapel was built 
under the shadow of the “ execution tree.” And 
now a great college, solidly built of stone, has been 
erected by the Wesleyans on land given by the 
Ashanti chiefs and with money largely contributed 
by the people. Telephone wires run through the 
city, and the skilled operators in the exchange are 
African girls. Sir. R. Baden-Powell, when he 

1 G. Ward Price, With the Prince to West Africa (1925), p. 115. 

* I have borrowed some^phrases from Captain R. S. Rattray’s 
description in The Times Trade and Engineering Supplement, 
March 21, 1925. 


48 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


marched his native levies into Kumasi, surely never 
dreamed that in thirty years’ time the great 
educational movement he was to launch would 
extend to Ashanti and that King Prempeh’s son 
would become a scout-master. Nor did he imagine 
that a Kumasi cricket team would ever beat white 
opponents. 

Outside Kumasi motor cars run over fine metalled 
roads. And a railway, bringing the town within 
twelve hours of the coast, runs through that dark 
and pestilential forest where for long weeks at the 
end of 1895 British soldiers and Native levies 
clambered over giant tree-roots or splashed through 
the sucking mud. 

Kumasi is the capital of Ashanti which forms part 
of Gold Coast Colony, a land made so prosperous by 
the industry of the natives under British adminis- 
tration that no direct taxes are levied. Out of the 
revenue derived from local products, over £ 220,000 
has been spent in building a hospital. From the 
same source is coming the money to build the college 
at Achimota which is to cost ;^40o,ooo. Here one 
sees British rule at its best. An African has written 
thus about it : “ The Gold Coast African finds him- 
self to-day a happy and loyal citizen in the British 
Commonwealth. He is happy because every moiety 
of his land is his alone, and he is loyal because he 
knows that that right will never be outraged.”^ 

What a change from the condition of things in 
1895 ! 

On March 12th, 1877, when descending the 

‘ J. B. Wanquah in West Africa, March 21, 1925. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


49 


Congo, H. M. Stanley found that the mighty 
river suddenly expanded into a lake, which at the 
suggestion of his companion, Francis Pocock, he 
named “ Stanley Pool.” On the right towered a 
long row of cliffs, white and glistening, which at 
once reminded the intrepid voyagers of Dover. 
On the left bank they found populous settlements 
of the Nshasa and other tribes. On the shores of 
the Pool a modem city named Kinshasa has now 
been built as the capital of the Belgian Congo. 
Where twelve years ago all was bush, land for 
building is now worth 10,000 francs a hectare, and 
rents vary from 1,100 to 1,500 francs a month. 
River steamers are moored at the quayside ; and 
aeroplanes start from and land at the aviation 
camp. A railway runs from the town past the 
unnavigable stretch of the river to the mouth. 
The population comprises 1,200 Whites of various 
nationalities, and 15,000 Blacks most of whom 
are drawn from far-distant regions to work in the 
Lever soap-factories and in other industries. Here 
you may see half-naked savages from the Equatorial 
forest mingling with more civilized Africans who 
ape the Europeans in their dress. Here too are 
African women arrayed in gaudy frocks, with 
naked feet thrust into patent leather high-heeled 
shoes, costing eighty francs a pair. In the clubs 
on Simday evening you will find black men and 
women dancing the most modem dances — the 
gentlemen in white or khaki, the ladies in fashion- 
able European attire. Very few of the labourers 
bring their wives to Kinshasa. They live detached 


E 


5 ° 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


from tribal restraints. Their rapid industrialisation 
gives them a totally fresh view of life, and on their 
return to their distant villages they carry home 
a new restlessness, new ambitions, new hunger for 
things unobtainable. The change gives point to 
M. Wauters’ question : “ What would Stanley 
say ? 

In igoi — the year before I went to Northern 
Rhodesia — Mr. George Grey (brother of Earl Grey 
of Falloden) led an expedition through that country 
prospecting for copper, the rumour of its existence 
in the Katanga district of Belgian Congo having 
been reported by Commander Cameron in 1876. 
Mr. Arnot was probably the first Briton actually to 
reach the Katanga (1889) where he established the 
Garenganze mission ; Belgian explorers had visited 
it since then, but when Mr. George Grey revealed 
the immense mineral wealth of the country it was 
still an almost unknown land and the people were 
almost entirely barbarous. 

The plan of the township that has now arisen 
near the site of Mr. Grey’s camp brings vividly to 
mind the thriving city of Eden which started such 
bright hopes in the breasts of Martin Chuzzlewit and 
Mark Tapley. Here it is on paper, with its broad 
avenues, its Palais de Justice, its cathedral, its 
prison and barracks, its parks and factories, all 
beautifully planned in symmetrical fashion. It is 
not credible, one thinks, that such a city can exist 
where, so few years ago, barbarism reigned. But 

1 Joseph Wauters (ex-minister of Labour, Belgium). Le 
Congo att travail (1924), pp. 86 sqq. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


51 


this city of Elisabethville actually exists. The 
site was chosen in 1910, and twelve years later was 
occupied by 2,000 Europeans, while the adjoining 
ville indigene accommodated 12,000 Natives. The 
beautiful streets and boulevai'ds are there — so is 
the cathedral ; substantial houses, fine hotels, 
excellent shops — all lit by electricity. Mr. Robert 
Williams, the eminent railway engineer, tells us^ 
that in 1923 he was lodged in “a residence as 
comfortable as my home in London.” 

He continues : 

" I visited the school for native workmen at the railway 
works there. 1 watched the natives being trained as 
locomotive drivers and was deeply interested in hearing 
one of them describe to his teacher the names and functions 
of all the parts of a sectional drawing of a locomotive. 
There was no lack of understanding and intelligence there, 

I assure you And here I may say that most of the 

drivers, stokers, signalmen, pointsmen, porters, telegraph 
clerks, and even station-masters in Katanga, are natives. 
One black station-master whom I met spoke both English 
and French, and was evidently a well-educated man.”“ 

No other region in the world, perhaps, possesses 
such vast potential wealth as the Katanga. It 
produces about two thousand tons of copper a 
week and is capable of producing a thousand tons a 

1 Robert Williams, More Milestones in African Civilization. 
In United Empire, February, 1924. 

• The Belgian authorities recognize no colour-bar in the 
industrial world. M. Franck, the Belgian Colonial minister, 
says : " Ce serait une injuste expropriation du plus respectable 
de tous les droits : le droit de faire tout ce dont 1’ indigene est 
capable, dans le domaine de la production economique." He tells 
that when South African agitators came to preach the colour- 
bar doctrine in the Katanga they were immediately expelled. — 
Etudes de colonisation compar 6 e, 1924, p. 127. 

E 2 


52 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


day. Cobalt, the valuable metal used in making special 
steels, is found there in great quantity. Sufficient 
radium is being extracted from the uranium of 
Katanga to meet the world’s present needs. The 
opening of these mines gives employment to many 
thousands of Africans, some of whom come from 
distant places. The educated men to whom Mr. 
Williams refers have been trained at the Belgian 
schools at the works, or at the mission schools, 
such as Livingstonia and Blantyre in far-off 
Nyasaland. Many of them are natives of Congo- 
land, and the point to which attention should be 
principally given is that here are Africans who 
had never seen an engine until the railway reached 
Katanga in 1910, and who are now driving loco- 
motives and handling railway signals. 

As in Congoland, so in Kenya, Rhodesia and 
elsewhere important townships are arising where 
Europeans and Africans intermingle and influence 
each other. Bulawayo, Salisbury, Livingstone, 
Fort Jameson, Blantyre, Nairobi — even Johan- 
nesburg — have all made their appearance since 1876. 

Nor is it in the towns alone that changes are 
taking place, the rapidity and the results of which 
are bewildering ; the Natives who live away from 
European settlements are also being affected. 
Major St. Orde Browne has described, as he saw it, 
the advent of civilization among certain East 
African tribes. In 1909 many of the natives of 
Kenya had seen no white man except himself. 

" Communities among which the war- horn and the 
poisoned arrow were quite the possible form of greeting 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


53 


were five years later thorouglily used to Europeans, buying 
and selling in coin, going away to work, and using piece- 
goods, steel tools and matches as if they had known them 
all their lives. 

The profound, incalculable transformations that 
are being so rapidly produced in Africa will be 
studied in subsequent chapters. It is the relative 
suddenness of the change that is so disturbing. 
But yesterday the vast majority of Africans lived 
in a secluded world, as their forefathers lived before 
them, with the very dimmest notions of any more 
spacious universe. Now among them the energetic 
white man has forced his way, with his railways 
and motor cars, his flying-machines, his passion for 
precious metals, his hunger for land, his need for 
trade, his desire for rapidly and easily acquired 
wealth, his ardour for putting things right in this 
crooked world. No wonder if the African feels 
that he is being hustled. The pace is too rapid. 
Changes that normally take hundreds of years are 
being brought about in a generation. The African 
is being called upon to take a prodigious leap out 
of the prehistoric age into the twentieth century. 

An eminent French savant hardly exaggerates 
when he writes : 

“ Among a European people a revolution represents a 
brusque and perhaps a brutal acceleration of the evolution 
which is normally in course of development, but always in 
conformity with the mentaUty of that people. On the 
contrary, among African or Asiatic peoples, a revolution, 
when it results from contact with Europeans, is a cata- 
clysm. ”2 

^ G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya 
{1925), p. 9. 2 Louis Vignon, Un programme de Politique 

coloniale {1919), p. 160. 


54 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


III. 

The main concern of this study is with the effect 
on the Africans, but it must not be forgotten that 
when a higher civilization impinges upon a lower 
both sides are affected. A double diffusion takes 
place. The barbarian learns many of the vices, 
and also, we may hope, many of the virtues of the 
civilized man, who in his turn is enriched in pro- 
portion as he serves the barbarian and debased in 
so far as he descends to his level. Africa has 
increased the moral wealth of Great Britain by 
providing the circumstances that have called forth 
the courage, humanity, and endurance of our 
Livingstones, our Gordons, our Cromers, our 
Lugards, our Moirs. But it would be folly to ignore 
that there is another side of the question. 

Seton Merriman pictured in Victor Durnovo^ 
a man who believed that there were no laws in 
Central Africa except the laws of necessity, that 
the best thing to do was to make hay while the sun 
shone and then to clear out of the country. Africa 
made of him a worse man than Nature had orig- 
inally intended. The Irritability of Africa — “ which 
makes honourable European gentlemen commit 
crimes of which they blush to think in after days ” — 
descended upon this half-breed. Africa has been 
the scene of some of the most revolting cruelties 
known or unknown to history. The enervating 
climate, the madness caused by fever-germs rioting 
in the blood, the loneliness which dooms a man to 


^ In With Edged Tools. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


55 


live for long months without seeing a companion 
of his own colour, the continual down-drag of a 
barbarous environment, the sense of being of a 
superior race, the possession of power over weaker 
peoples, — these go far to explain, if they do not 
excuse, the loathsome deeds done under the tropical 
sun. Unfortunately many Europeans have not the 
moral stamina to withstand the corruptive influence 
of life in Africa, which at times makes savages even 
of highly-born, educated Englishmen : of the 
perpetrators of the vile deeds described by Dr. 
Norman Leys one was the son of a bishop and the 
other the son of a peer. Pages of this book could 
easily be filled with descriptions of acts that would 
make the readers’ blood curdle with horror and 
boil with anger. 

It is more germane, however, to point out that 
prolonged contact with African barbarism produces 
permanent effects upon European groups. This 
has been proved abundantly in South Africa. 

“ Our society,” writes Dr. Edgar Brookes,^ " has come 
to represent that of the Athens of Pericles — an educated 
democracy, resting upon a foundation of what, when all 
hypocritical periphrases are swept away, is really slave- 
labour. Our whole cultural and social milieu is coloured 
by that fact. Where our common habits and our common 
modes of thought differ most profoundly from those of the 
races overseas from which we spring, the explanation of 
that difference is largely to be sought in our Native Problem. 

1 Dr. Brookes is Head of the Department of Politics and 
Public Administration at Transvaal University College, Pretoria. 
The quotation is taken from his paper, “ The Economic Aspects 
of the Native Problem,” read before the South African Associa- 
tion . — South African Journal of Science, Vol. XXI, November, 

1924. 


56 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


The young South African commonly possesses, along with 
a genuine passion for equality and fraternity as regards his 
white fellow- Afrikanders — a robust democracy that distrusts 
knighthoods and looks with suspicion even on a harmless 
O.B.E. — the additional characteristic of a born aristocrat, 
with the vices as well as the virtues of an hereditary aris- 
tocracy, as regards the Native peoples among whom he 
lives. This peculiarly Spartan ethos, so unlike that of 
almost every country in the world (except perhaps the 
Southern States of America) marks us out as a distinct 
nation, with a distinct civilization — and it is entirely the 
product of the despised black man who has influenced our 
development, even as we have influenced his.” 

Had there been no aboriginal peoples in South 
Africa it is probable that the white immigrants 
would have worked with their own hands — as they 
do in Australia and Canada. The experience of 
Queensland — where the climate is more tropical 
than in most of South Africa — ^has abundantly 
proved since the Kanakas were excluded from the 
sugar plantations in 1901 that white men can work 
in torrid regions and produce larger crops than 
the black man.^ If white men can work in Queens- 
land, they can work in the salubrious regions of 
South Africa. But the presence of the black has 
caused the white man to regard himself as an 

^ J. W. Gregory, The Menace of Colour (1925), Chapter IX. 
” The Australian adoption of White Labour for its sugar planta- 
tions has been the greatest contribution yet made to the practical 
solution of the problem whether the white man can do agricultural 
work in the tropics. The development of the plantations during 
the past twenty-four years shows that white labour can be 
employed successfully in such an ultra-tropical industry as sugar 
cultivation in even the ultra-tropical climate of the Queensland 
coastlands, provided the workers are protected from infectious 
disease and from the competition of people with lower standards 
of life.” (pp. 223, 224). 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


57 


aristocrat. As early as the lirst decade of the 
Dutch settlement the farmers, who were intended 
to be peasant proprietors, tilling the ground chiefly 
with their own hands, began “ to aspire to a position 
in which their work would consist merely in directing 
others,” and they demanded that the Government 
should provide them with cheap labour. ^ Slaves 
were introduced and for 177 years slave-labour 
formed the economic basis of colonial life. Since 
the emancipation in 1834, free labour has taken its 
place. There is much truth in Dean Inge’s biting 
words : Our countrymen in South Africa sit under 
a tree and hire a coloured man to work for them. 2 
The psychological effects are incalculable. South 
Africans are not weaklings ; they come of some of 
the finest stocks the world has known. Manual 
work in itself is not degrading — to ply spade and 
pick, hammer and chisel, never lowered any man. 
But because many kinds of work have been done 
for generations by black men, it has come to pass 
that they are regarded as derogatory to the dignity 
of the white man. The finest race will deteriorate 
when such a notion becomes a rule of life. As 
Mr. Dawson truly says ; “ The existence of a large 
and practically inexhaustible supply of Blacks, 
ready to be engaged for the cost of horses’ feed, 
with worse than horses’ quarters, is a standing 
temptation to slackness, and the draw that way, 
once encouraged, is difficult to check.”® Hence, 

^ G. McCall Theal, History of South Africa 1486-1691 
(l888), pp. 112, 113. 

* Outspoken Essays, second series, p. 225. 

*W. H. Dawson, South Africa (1925), p. 343. 


58 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


too, that “ boss spirit,” so characteristic of South 
Africans. Even the children become infected by 
it : if a boy drops his cap he may be heard to call 
a black to pick it up, and it is not unknown for 
school-children to have black servants to carry 
their books and slates. 

The land system has created a class of by-woners — 
“ hangers-on ” — ^who, because the farmers insist 
upon having cheap black labour, and because 
these unfortunate whites can neither obtain land 
nor have ever been accustomed to work, are forced 
into the towns, there to swell the ranks of the 
unemployed and unemployable. They form the 
class of Poor Whites. The evils of slumdom as we 
know them in England are being repeated under 
the blue South African sky. In Port Elizabeth 
and elsewhere thousands are herded in single-room 
tenements. Mr. Ambrose Pratt describes what he 
saw in Johannesburg : 

“ Dirty, mean little houses, broken, almost impassable 
roadways, squalor unspeakable. And these streets stretch 
out for miles. Here is the quarter of the ‘ poor whites,’ 
wretched victims of the Kaffirs’ monopoly of the unskilled 
labour market, who derive an infamous living by the 
laundry labour of their wives, the prostitution of their 
daughters, and by selling liquor in secret to the native 
hordes.”^ 

Things have grown worse since those words were 
written in 1913. In 1916 there were said to be 
106,000 Poor Whites ; in 1922 it was estimated 
that every twelfth white person in South Africa 
might be so classed. The offspring of educated, 

1 Ambrose Pratt, The Real South Africa (1913), p. 149. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


59 


respectable citizens are adding to the number. 
Only fifty per cent, of the boys leaving school can 
now be placed in employment. ^ No wonder that 
South Africans have become alanned at the double 
trend of events — the decreasing efficiency of a large 
section of the whites, and the increasing efficiency 
of a section of the blacks. The latter have for long 
borne the burden of unskilled labour, and are ready 
to push their way into skilled trades wherever the 
opposition of organized Labour cannot exclude 
them. Mentally, morally, and physically many of 
the Blacks are far superior to many of the degenerate 
Whites. What their wiser leaders pointed out long 
ago has now become evident to South Africans 
generally : the most serious of their problems lies 
in the rapid deterioration of large numbers of the 
Whites. Many of these are the victims of circum- 
stances, but the root of the evil is to be found in 
that long-established prejudice against manual toil.^ 
The Government is doing its best to get these people 
employed® — even at the expense of the Blacks, e.g., 

1 Edgar Brookes, op . cit ., pp. 658, 659. 

* Sir W. Hely Hutchinson (Governor of Natal, 1893-1900 ; 
then of Cape Colony) said ; “ The poor white problem is one of 
the most pressing of South African problems. It is in a sense 
the direct result of native and coloured environment.” 

® In 1925 two railway lines were opened, in the construction 
of which over 1,000 Poor Whites were employed. The substi- 
tution of White for Black labour increased the cost of one line 
by ;^2o,ooo. The Auditor-General of the Union is reported to 
have declared that this employment of Whites instead of Blacks 
on railway work is not in conformity with the principles of the 
Constitution, because the law lays down that railways shall be 
administered on " business principles,” and it is not business 
to spend so much money unnecessarily. 


6o 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


by turning off old and industrious employes from 
the railways and substituting less competent Whites. 
Many are advocating the displacement of black by 
white labourers in the mines and industries. ■ The 
problem will never be solved until the idea of 
manual toil being ignominious because it is “ Kaffirs’ 
work ” is abandoned, and until the standard of 
living among the Blacks is raised by education so 
that they cannot undersell the Whites on the labour 
market, but are paid equal wages when they do 
the same class of work. This would mean a 
revolution in the economic life of South Africa. 

The civilized community in contact with a bar- 
barian either raises it to its own level, or sinks. 


IV. 

South Africa has much to teach other communi- 
ties in the continent about the effect upon the white 
man of this contact between civilization and 
barbarism. But our concern here is with the effect 
upon the black man. 

Lord Bryce, one of the wisest teachers of our age, 
said : “ whoever examines the records of the past 
will find that the continued juxtaposition of two 
races has always been followed either by the 
disappearance of the weaker or by the intermixture 
of the two.”^ If this rule is to hold good in Africa, 
then one of two things will happen : either the 
African, or the European in Africa, will disappear ; 

1 James (Viscount) Bryce, The American Commonwealth 
(1911), Vol. II, p. 532, 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


6i 


or Africa will one day be inhabited by a mixed 
Afro-European race. 

The latter alternative means that Africa will 
follow the example of a large area of South America 
where an amalgamation is taking place of the 
aboriginal survivors with the imported negroes and 
the Portuguese and Spanish colonists. Professor 
Gregory, like others who have examined the 
question, concludes that the European race, as a 
race, has no chance of permanence in most of 
South America. 1 Is a similar hybridization to occur 
in Africa ? The process has certainly begun. 

In South Africa public opinion both among 
Blacks and Whites is against miscegenation. Inter- 
marriage is forbidden by law in the Transvaal and 
the Orange Free State. But illicit imions of white 
men and black women are common, and not alone 
in the lower grades of society. Some South Africans, 
both White and Black, would make such cohabi- 
tation a criminal offence, ^ but so long as the races 
come into contact it will go on. The 500,000 
“ coloured ” people within the Union represent 
various degrees of intermixture of the many races 
who live in the country — ^white, black, yellow and 
brown. Writers who are anxious to preserve the 

1 The Menace of Colour, p. 237, “ The proportion of South 
Americans who are counted as white is estimated as from one- 
third to one-tenth ; but even the lower of these estimates 
includes many who are only partly white. The number free 
from any Indian intermixture is probably less than one-tenth 
and the proportion of Iberian blood is dwindling.” p. 118. 
Lord Bryce was much of the same opinion. 

* A Bill was to be introduced into the 1926 session of the 
Union Parliament punishing offenders by imprisonment and 
flogging. 


62 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


purity of their stock regard with apprehension the 
growth of this element. Mr. Stevens is very out- 
spoken on the subject. “In a century or two,” 
he admonishes his fellow South Africans, “ the 
South African schoolboy will listen with mouth 
agape whilst his master traces his descent from the 
ancients of Europe, of Asia, and of Africa — and 
those European progenitors, courteous reader, will 
be you and I.”^ 

In the rest of British Africa the same kind of 
coalescence is slowly going on. In the French, 
Portuguese, Belgian and Italian territories, where 
pride of race is not so strong as among ourselves, 
these imions are more common and are more 
frequently acknowledged. There the white man is 
not ashamed to own his children and may even 
send them to be educated in Europe, a thing few 
Britons would dream of doing. “ A Frenchman 
the more ! ” — is the attitude the French take. 
Some people regard this hybridization as the best 
solution of the colour-problem. There seems to be 
only one obstacle to the growth of a very large Afro- 
European population, namely the relative paucity 
of white men. 

Considering the stir they make, it is startling to 
discover how few the Whites are.^ In the whole 
of British Africa there are only 1,617,300 people of 
European stock, and of these 1,519,500 live within 
the Union of South Africa. All British East Africa 

1 E. J. C. Stevens, White and Black, p. 40. 

^ Sir Leo Chiozza Money, The Peril of the White (1925), 
Appendix, " The World’s Population in 1921.” 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


63 


(Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Nyasaland 
and Northern Rhodesia) contains only 18,000 ; and 
British West Africa only 7,400. The French 
African Empire contains 1,222,300 people of Euro- 
pean stock and of these 1,191,000 reside in Algeria, 
Morocco and Tunis, and 17,200 in Madagascar, 
leaving only 14,100 in the remainder of the vast 
area of French Africa. In other European terri- 
tories there are : Italian Africa, 48,700 ; Portuguese, 
24,600 ; Spanish, 12,900 ; Belgian, 10,000. The 
whole continent contains 3,112,800 Europeans, as 
against 126,301,900 non-Europeans. 

What prospect is there of an increased European 
population ? At present, the countries which enjoy 
a salubrious climate (South Africa, S. Rhodesia, 
Kenya) are calling for settlers, but only for such 
as possess capital — and these are not numerous 
to-day. Other colonies do not as yet ask for more 
than sufficient men to direct industries. Even 
though science should make it possible for Euro- 
peans to colonize Africa in the real sense of the 
term — as Canada is colonized — seeing that our 
birth-rate is diminishing ^ and that there is so much 
room in other parts of the Empire, it seems very 
unlikely that British Africa will be much more 
fully occupied by white men fifty years hence than 
it is now. Nor will it be otherwise in other 
territories. It is probably true that European 
emigration on a large scale will only take place to 

* The birth-rate in England and Wales fell from 23.9 in 1912 
to 18.8 in 1924 (in 1925, 18.3) : in France it rose from 18.9 in 
1912 to 19.2 in 1924. Chiozza Money, op. cit., p. 136. 


64 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the countries where manual labour by Europeans 
forms the basis of industry, and that while white 
men in Africa act only as overseers of black 
labourers no very great addition to their numbers 
is to be expected. 

One effect of the modern invasion of Africa has 
undoubtedly been to decimate the black population 
in many regions.^ Nowadays most people who 
have interests in Africa are greatly concerned about 
the depopulation : they see that no profit is really 
made if you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. 
Efforts are being made to stay the death-rate. 
The Africans possess considerable resilience and soon 
begin to increase when favourable conditions are 
established. If the rate at which they have multi- 
plied in South Africa during the last thirty years 
be maintained for another fifty years, 2 the Blacks 
will then number 16,500,000 ; and if the annual 
rate should increase from two to three per cent., 
as it may easily do if certain hygienic measures are 
adopted, they will number 24,000,000. If the 
European population continues to grow as at 
present, by immigration and naturally, it will 
reach 6,500,000 fifty years hence. The moral of 
these figures has been pointed out by Mr. C. W. 
Cousins, the Director of Census, 1921. Twenty- 
five years, he says, will probably decide the question 
whether the white race is to have any part in the 
ultimate development of South Africa. Failing 

1 See later, Chapter VI, 

2 Between 1891 and 1921 the Whites of South Africa increased 
by 500,000 ; non-Europeans by 2,630,000 — notwithstanding 
the influenza which swept off 500,000 natives in 1918. 


DEBIT And Credit account. 65 

accessions from abroad, “ it must for ever abandon 
the prospect of maintaining a white civilization 
except as a proportionately diminishing minority 
and in the face of an increasing, and at last an 
overwhelming majority. It may then be forced 
to abandon its domination, or even to abandon 
the country.” 

In South Africa, as in some other regions, there 
is no likelihood that the Africans will share the 
fate of the aborigines of Tasmania and Newfound- 
land, who died out long ago ; nor that they will 
dwindle in number like the Maoris of New Zealand. 

If the European powers are faithful to the principle 
of Trusteeship an increase of the population may 
be seen in those regions where of late years it has 
declined. In that case it is possible that when 
they are educated and their race consciousness is 
fully developed, the Africans will one day be success- \ 
ful in regaining their own country. 

From these considerations it is by no means 
certain that the African is the “ weaker ” race of 
Lord Bryce’s dictum. It may be the white man that 
will disappear, though in many regions he will by 
that time have intermingled his blood largely with 
that of the blacks, and in that sense will remain. 
Some people who have studied the question have 
no doubt on the matter. Professor Gregory, for 
example, thinks that “ the ultimate supremacy of 
the Negro over most of the continent appears 
inevitable.”^ He would apparently exclude South 
Africa. If, as some writers prognosticate, the 

^ Tke Menace of Colour, p. 237. 


F 


66 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Whites cannot retain their footing even there, then 
Professor Gregory’s conclusion appears incontro- 
vertible. 


V. 

These are matters that the future will decide. 
Our concern now is with the present time. The 
end is not yet, but can a kind of interim balance 
sheet be drawn up to show where the African has 
gained and where he has lost through his contact 
with the Whites ? 

If a glance is taken beyond the modern period, 
it is seen that the African’s debt to the Caucasian 
is tremendous. The Negro, it would seem, never 
domesticated any of the wild animals that lived 
around him in such varied abundance : at any rate 
only the ass and the cat come to us from Africa. 
The Negro’s oxen came to him from Asia, as also 
his pigs, goats and domestic fowls. His sorghum 
was probably introduced from Arabia, his eleusine 
and millet from Syria. Various lentils, peas and 
melons, the castor-oil plant and the banana, all 
came into Africa from the East.^ 

In modem times Africa has been further enriched 
from abroad. The Portuguese have been among 
its greatest benefactors in material things. During 
the i6th and 17th centuries they introduced tobacco, 
sweet potatoes, maize, wheat, ground-nuts, sugar- 
cane, manioc, the paw-paw, orange and pineapple. 

^ Sir H. H. Johnston, The Opening up of Africa, p. 48 sqq. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


67 


These are substantial items to be placed to the 
white man’s credit. 

An endeavour must be made to arrive at a fair 
estimate in this matter. 

When in 1925, by a majority of 3,820,000 votes 
to 79,000, the Trade Union Congress passed a resolu- 
tion declaring that the domination of non-British 
peoples by the British Government is a form of 
capitalist exploitation having for its object the 
securing for British capitalists cheap sources of 
raw materials, the right to exploit cheap and 
unorganized labour and to use the competition of 
that labour to degrade the workers’ standards in 
Great Britain — the Congress, notwithstanding Mr. 
J. H. Thomas’s warning, made itself ridiculous. 
That there has been exploitation of the native races, 
and that this still exists few would question. Some- 
thing must be said about it in subsequent chapters. 
But there is another side of the matter which is 
totally ignored in this resolution. From personal 
observation, I bear testimony to the services 
rendered to the African by high-mmded British 
soldiers, traders, and administrators. Nobody who 
knows anything of the history of the Gold Coast, 
Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda (to name no others) can 
doubt for an instant that the Africans have gained 
in many directions from their contact with Euro- 
peans. To see nothing but “ capitalist exploitation ” 
is grossly unjust. 

It must be admitted on the other hand that 
certain evils have attended the European invasion ; 
in some instances as a direct result of selfish policy^ 


THE golden stool. 


6S 

in others as a consequence of ignorance and short- 
sightedness ; and often contrary to our intention, 
as if some malignant Fate were dogging our steps. 

Europeans may pride themselves upon having 
put a stop to intertribal warfare. It is no longer 
possible for a Chaka to devastate vast regions and 
cause the death of two million people. On the 
other hand — to say nothing of various unjust wars 
waged against the Africans — Europeans were not 
content to fight their battles in Europe but must 
needs carry the great War into Africa. Almost 
the whole continent was directly affected by their 
action. Thousands of willing Africans were enlisted 
to fight on both sides and also hundreds of thousands 
(538,570 on the British side in the East African 
campaign alone to carry food and ammunition. 
It is not known how many of these carriers died — 
certairily a large proportion : “ in tens of thousands,” 
says Mr. Hobley. Nor does any one know how many 
of the non-belligerents perished in their villages 
thi'ough famine and disease.^ It was a shameful 
thing to thrust an unnecessary war upon Africans — 

1 British East Africa (now Kenya) furnished 201,431 ; Uganda, 
178,819; Nyasaland, 123,320; Nigeria, 35,000. (The Empire 
at War, edited by Sir Charles Lucas, Vol. IV.) Nothing is said 
of Northern Rhodesia, but we know that one district prorided, 
for various kinds of work, 6,500 men per annum out of 7,400 
able-bodied male adults. (F. H. Melland, In Wiich-hottnd 
Africa, (1923) P- 27.) 

® Germans shot down carriers when these were too exhausted 
to march further. One of their officers wrote in a private 
letter : " Our road is paved with corpses of the natives we have 
been obliged to kill.” (G. L. Beer, African Questions at the Paris 
Peace Conference, pp. 44, 45, quoting Cd. 8689 (1917).) Entire 
areas in East Africa were depopulated by the retreating German 
armies which compelled women as well as men to act as carriers. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 




unnecessary, for the issue was decided in Europe. 
It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that during 
the four years more Africans lost their lives than in 
all the inter-tribal wars of the previous fifty years. 

\Vhite men — the British in particular — have put 
down the slave-traffic at very great cost to them- 
selves in blood and treasure ; but they ought not 
to be over-complacent about it, since, if they did 
not start it, they carried it on for about four hundred 
years. 

We have built railways and hospitals. Our 
doctors have spent years, and, in many instances, 
have sacrificed their lives while investigating tropical 
diseases. As a result of their labours millions of 
Africans will benefit. On the other hand, it must 
not be forgotten that by opening up Africa 
Europeans have introduced new diseases and made 
possible the spread of others. Sleeping sickness 
had been endemic for centuries in West Africa, but 
it was only when travellers, accompanied by great 
bands of porters, began to ascend the Congo that 
it was carried eastwards. The people of Uganda, 
where the disease destroyed 200,000 persons, blame 
Europeans for the calamity and we cannot disclaim 
responsibility. Influenza killed 500,000 black people 
in South Africa and 155,000 in East Africa — to say 
nothing of other regions — and but for Europeans 
it would probably never have touched them. If it 
is true that syphilis was introduced by Arabs, and 
in more \drulent form by Indians, it is|also true 
that tuberculosis was taken to Africa by Europeans. 

It is a fact that in some regions Europeans have 


70 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


brought the Africans the blessings of good govern- 
ment, of education and the Christian religion ; but 
on the other side must be placed the inhuman 
cruelties practised at the expense of the Africans 
in Belgian Congo (under the Leopold regime) and 
in the German and Portuguese colonies. Nor is 
the British record clean in this respect. Moreover, 
it cannot be questioned, that contact with Europeans 
has caused debasement of African character in 
some respects,^ while awakening their intellect and 
kindling their ambition. 

The African has received the products of our 
European factories (including our cast-off garments 
and alcohol) ; but at the same time many an 
interesting African industry has been destroyed. 

The European places a high estimate on the value 
of his civilization — and has a corresponding con- 
tempt for African barbarism. But the African may 
be excused if he wonders how far he is better off 
under our rule than he was under his own. His 
old social system is being rapidly disintegrated. 
He is no longer free as he was. From hunter and 
warrior, he is reduced (as he thinks) to earning 

1 The painful description penned by Dr. Allegret of the effect 
upon the character of Africans in French West Africa applies 
also, in greater or less degree, to other parts of the continent : 
“ A new spirit of acquisitiveness has been awakened, new vices 
have replaced, or have been superimposed upon the old. By 
civilizing the natives we have increased their power to take 
action and have put new tools in their hands without having 
trained their reason or their conscience. We have, so to speak, 
increased tenfold the power and the speed of the locomotive 

without repairing the line upon which it is to run The 

black race is in danger, physically and morally ; its normal 
and progressive development is threatened .” — Iniernaiional 
Review of Missions, April, 1923. 


DEBIT AND CREDIT ACCOUNT. 


71 


wages from one white man that he may pay taxes 
to another. He is compelled to spend long months 
apart from wife and children that he may satisfy 
the exigent white stranger’s hunger for precious 
metals. No wonder that many a woman lives to 
curse the day that reft her of her man and carried 
him off to township and mine — curse it for a home- 
breaker, for a destroyer of health, for a murderer 
of unborn babes 

If only we Europeans do our duty in a Christian 
way, the Africans will be the ultimate gainers 
from this invasion. But as regards our interim 
balance sheet, it must be confessed that were any one 
to say that the account is against Europe it would be 
difficult to contradict his statement. 

^ G. E. Tilsley, in Woyld Dominion, December, 1925, p. 19. 
Some other effects of the advent of Western civilization are not 
so apparent to us, but they are very real to the Africans. There 
is, for example, the cleft driven between the old and young 
members of families and tribes — a feud created between those 
who look back on yesterday, with its stability and ordered 
life, and those who are all for the new ways. — Some of the 
statements made above do not apply in equal degree to every 
part of Africa. Certain of them would not be accepted by any 
one who was famihar only with British West Africa. There, 
however, the absence of some unpleasant effects of European 
invasion is counterbalanced by the ravages of the liquor traffic 
and by the long-enduring effects of the slave trade. As Sir C. 
Lucas says, the slave trade made West Africa “ the darkest 
and most degraded part of the world.” — A Historical Geography 
of the British Colonies, 2nd Edition (1890), p. 77. 


CHAPTER IV. 


Wherein an Attempt is made to Estimate the 
African’s Worth. 

I. 

U nfortunately no record is available of 
what the Africans thought concerning the 
first white men who arrived on their coasts 
to carry them into slavery. It is known, however, 
that in other parts of Africa the Natives regarded 
the earliest European visitors as supernatural 
beings. Their appearance was looked upon as a 
portent. “ There was a pretty general fear that 
disease and death would follow,” says Dr. Bentley 
of his arrival in Congoland. The fears of the 
Negroes pictured Mungo Park in the flowing robes 
of a tremendous spirit : one of them said that when 
the white man appeared a cold blast of wind poured 
down upon himself from the sky, like so much 
water. When Natives of Nyasaland first saw a 
steamer on the lake they were terror-stricken and 
said : “ It is God. He walks on the water.” When 
they beheld the white skin of the man who landed 
they said : “ It is surely God. He has come to 
us in the likeness of men,” When he ate sopie 


THE AFRICAN'S WORTH. 


73 


bananas in their presence, they said : ” No, not 
God, but a friend of His.” It is widely believed 
that white men come out of the sea — this has been 
said in my presence in the far interior by men who 
had never seen the sea. Their wonderful possessions 
are supposed to have been picked up on the ocean 
shore, or on the ocean-bed — so easily obtained, so 
niggardly imparted ! Some even think (a curious 
reminiscence of slavery-days) that they compel the 
spirits of black men to manufacture these things 
for them beneath the sea or under the earth ; and 
that tinned meats are really the flesh of those 
black captives ! The white man is considered a 
magician of very extraordinary gifts : probably few 
Europeans who travel in Central Africa escape 
from having the power attributed to them of making 
or of withholding rain. Everything about them 
is wonderful, uncanny. 

In some districts the European’s white skin is 
taken as proof of his favour with the Creator, for 
white is the African’s emblem of happiness and 
blessedness, as black is their emblem of sadness 
and misfortune. 

So is built up the white man’s prestige ; and it 
is upon this, rather than upon actual force, that 
his power chiefly rests. There is always a machine 
gun in the background, of course, but it is not 
this that counts most. Apart from the sentry 
at the district gaol, and except at the capital, 
which was also the headquarters of the native 
police, I very rarely saw an armed policeman in 
Northern Rhodesja. The whole of Nigeria, an area 


74 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


equal to that of Germany, Holland, Belgium, and 
two-thirds of France, with over 18,000,000 inhabi- 
tants, is governed with the aid of 2,500 African 
troops, officered by white men : and the Political 
Officers average only one to every 70,000 Africans. 

This prestige is not based solely upon a reputation 
for thaumaturgy. Though for long years the 
African may retain an uneasy sense of the European’s 
magic, he does at last discover him to be a man 
like unto himself. It is commonly believed that 
he admires and respects brute strength above all 
else but a study of his folk-tales proves the contrary. 
He is a very shrewd judge of men. The profound 
esteem with which David Livingstone was regarded, 
and the reverence in which his name is still held 
by those who remember him, should in itself be 
sufficient to show that the African recognizes and 
appreciates nobility of character. He may, and 
in many instances he does, begin by crediting the 
European with magical power, but in the long 
run it is such virtues as kindliness, humanity, 
courage, justice, truthfulness, cheerfulness, that he 
looks for and admires. It is a circumstance of 
great value to their successors that, over a vast 
area, the first Europeans exhibited those virtues 
in an eminent degree. 

It comes as a shock to the African to discover 
that white men are not all immaculate. He quickly 
loses respect for them when they fall below the 
standard he has set up. It is to be feared that 
over a large part of Africa they are not respected 
as they were. “ Let it be repeated,” says Mr. 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


75 


D. K. Mackenzie. 1 “ to the younger generation the 
white man is no longer a little tin god, or any 
other kind of god.” Instead of regarding him with 
awe as a supernatural bemg, as their fathers did, 
they make fun of him. Young Africans are terrible 
mimics, and in hundreds of villages to-day the 
white man and his ways form the subject of acted 
comedies. To laugh at a man is of course com- 
patible with respect and affection, and these 
comedies are not in themselves proof that Europeans 
are no longer reverenced. But they do mean that 
Europeans are discovered to be human and as such 
must prove themselves worthy of respect. 

That the war has lowered the white man’s prestige 
is the testimony of many observers. 

" The effect of the war upon the Native was in almost 
every way most unfortunate, quite apart from the loss of 
life and damage to property,” writes Major Orde Browne.* 
" It is true that he gained an enormously increased respect 
for the power and resources of the mysterious European, 
which must serve as a great deterrent to any idea of armed 
movements ; but against that advantage must be set the 
effect upon the native mind of seeing the previously all- 
wise European embark upon a bitter and prolonged war 
of an extent and duration utterly beyond African experience. 

To the more intelligent such a revelation must 

have had a marked effect in making them doubtful whether 
the white man’s ways were really preferable to their own. 
Of necessity, in a campaign very many ugly things have 
to be done, while the stripping off of many of the restraints 
of civilized life left the ruling race only too often in a most 
unprepossessing light.” 

* D. K. Mackenzie, The Spirit-ridden Konde (1925), p. 159. 

’ G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of Kenya 
{1925), p. 271. 


76 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


This estimate is confirmed by another experienced 
East African official — Mr. C. W. Hobley, who 
writes : — ^ 

" The black troops soon came to realize the physical 
disabilities of the Europeans and their vulnerability. They 
saw Europeans shot down and even bayoneted by enemy black 
soldiers, they realized that very few Europeans were crack 
shots, they noted the inferior marching capacity of the 
white man, his inability to find his way about in the bush 
unaccompanied by a native guide, and in some cases they 
even saw that the courage of the white was not greater 
than that of the black. After all tliis can it be wondered 
that the prestige of the white race has suffered in the war ? 
Is it surprising that the attitude of many of the blacks to 
the white man has altered ? " 

Mr. Hobley adds : " It is doubtful if the old traditional 
wide respect of white by black can ever be entirely restored.” 

Apart from the effects of the war, a very serious 
aspect of the subject must be reckoned with. Large 
numbers of Africans have undoubtedly, and not 
without reason, come to question the white man’s 
equity. Some writers exaggerate the extent to 
which, largely under the stimulus of certain Afro- 
American agitators, the national sentiment has 
arisen, with its cry “ Africa for the Africans ” ; but 
undoubtedly it exists in some quarters, and it feeds 
upon every instance of the white man’s injustice 
and cruelty. The European’s reputation is at stake. 

” By all ye cry or whisper. 

By all ye leave or do, 

The silent, sullen peoples. 

Shall weigh your Gods and you.” 

I e. W, Hobley, C.M.G., Bantu Beliefs and Magic (ifizs), 
p. 287. See R. St. Barbe Baker’s article in the Empire 
Review, November, 1924 : " It is difficult to estimate the damage 
to European prestige as the result of the last war,’’ 


THE AERJCAN'S WORTH. 


17 


II. 

Lord Bryce demonstrated that race sentiment is 
a comparatively recent growth. It emerged when 
peoples began to realize themselves as nations and 
came into contact and competition with others.^ 

It was not until modem times that Britons 
came into touch with Africans. In the Middle 
Ages the strangest notions, coming down from 
Greek geographers, prevailed concerning them. 
Ethiopia w’as “ the blue men’s land.” 

" In this land,” wrote Bartholomew the Englishman, in 
the 13th century, ” be many nations with divers faces 
wonderly and horribly shapen. . . And other as Trogodites 
dig them dens and caves, and dwell in them instead of 
houses : and they cat serpents, and all that may be got ; 
their noise is more fearful in sounding than the voice of 
other. . . . There be other that be called Bennii, and it is 
said, they have no heads, but they have eyes fixed in their 
breasts. And there be Satyrs, and they have only shape 
of men, and have no manners of mankind. . . Other men 
of Ethiopia live only by honeysuckles dried in smoke, and 
in the sun, and these live not past forty years.”’ 

Such were the ideas generally held when English- 
men began to frequent the western shores of Africa. 
In what degree was Shakespeare’s knowledge more 
accurate ? 

He makes Othello tell Desdemona : 

”... of the cannibals that each other cat, 

The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders.” 

Desdemona was not alone in feeling the fascination 

1 Viscount Bryce, Race Seniiment as a factor in history (1915). 

* Mediaval Lore (King’s Classics), pp, S8-90. 


78 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


of an opening world. That Elizabethans were 
intensely curious as to the peoples of the new lands 
we may gather from Trinculo ; “ When they will 
not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will 
lay out ten to see a dead Indian.” Shakespeare 
took Othello, a black man, as the hero of his greatest 
tragedy, and perhaps none of his characters shows 
more supremely “ the mastery of his genius and of 
his power over the human heart.” The Moor’s 
blood is highly inflammable, but his nature is noble, 
confiding, tender and generous, ^ and shows up well 
against that of the detestable lago, whom Shakespeare 
uses as a foil. Othello is thoroughly human : we 
pity him as he becomes entangled by circumstances ; 
we do not hold him in contempt. If the prejudice 
against colour had emerged in Shakespeare’s day, 
he did not share it. Indeed it is more than likely 
that The Temfest voices his protest against the 
brutalities inflicted by the Whites of his day upon the 
Blacks. Here is perhaps the earliest treatment in 
English literature of the conflict of cultures in 
Africa. Trinculo and Stephano, who swear by the 
bottle, are of the type that has too frequently 
represented European civilization. Caliban is the 
“ half-devil and half-child ” of the later Kipling. 
He embodies, perhaps, the Elizabethan conception 
of the African ; 

“ A devil, a born devil, on whose nature 
Nurture can never stick.” 

But the penetrative insight of Shakespeare reveals 


1 The adjectives, a,re Hazlitt’s. 


THE AFRICAN'S WORTH. 


79 


that he too is human. He is gross, uncouth, wild, 
but, as Hazlitt says, his figure acquires a classical 
dignity in comparison with the drunken sailors. 
Shakespeare shows him to be sensitive to the white 
man’s injustice. 

“ When thou earnest first. 

Thou strok’dst me, and mad’st much of me. . . 

. . . and then I lov’d thee, 

And shew’d thee all the qualities o’ th' isle. . . 

Curs’d be I that I did so 1 . . . 

. . . here you sty me 

In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me 
The rest o’ the island.” 

With a fidelity that excites our admiration 
Shakespeare limns in a few sure words Caliban’s 
swift and pathetic trust in “ the brave god ” — 
“ Hast thou not dropped from heaven ? ” He is 
indeed “ a most ridiculous monster, to make a 
wonder of a poor drunkard.” But, passion’d like 
ourselves, he is not to be fooled all the time : he 
awakes at last to the true character of those men 
who have excited his wonder ; 

" what a thrice-double ass 

Was I, to take this drunkard for a god. 

And worship this dull fool ! ” 

And if in this respect Shakespeare correctly reads 
the savage’s mind, he is no less prophetic in his 
estimation of that spiritual faculty which enabled 
this poor clod to sense that the isle was full 
of noises, 

" Sounds, and sweet airs, that give dehght, and hurt not.” 

It is nothing short of marvellous that, at a time 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


So 


when the barbarian (whether African or other) was 
so little known, Shakespeare should, while exagger- 
ating his brutishness, have interpreted his soul so 
well. 


III. 

For a long period the African has been looked 
upon as an inferior being, and even as sub-human. 
This finds frequent utterance. “ The negro,” says 
Mr. R. C. F. Maugham,! “ g^nt j^to the world 
for one end and for one end only — viz. manual 
labour.” Many men voice the sentiment more 
tersely when they speak of ” the damned nigger.” 
Even when not expressed, the disdain is too often 
apparent in the white man’s attitude. If this 
contempt did not originate with the enslaving of 
the African it was greatly reinforced by that traffic. 
On the whole the European did not find it difficult 
to carry Negroes into slavery and it was easy to 
argue from this fact that the African was a slave by 
nature. To-day, the need for the labour of the 
black man forms the basis of the argument that 
the black man is fitted only for manual and menial 
toil. The slave-trade inflicted a terrible wrong upon 
the Negro : and it requires little effort to hate a 
man whom you have wronged. “ Half of his worth 
doth Zeus the far-seeing take from a man when the 

1 Portuguese East Africa (1906), p. 302. The Portuguese who 
have never viewed the African except as mao d' obra (" labouring 
hand ”), " have always known how to deal with the negro,” 
says Mr. Maugham. 


THE AFRICAN'S WORTH. 


SI 


day of slavery catcheth him,” said Homer, and to 
this day the feeling remains that a slave is only 
half a man, if so much. The contempt felt for 
slaves was by association extended to the whole 
African race. It became natural for the upholders 
of slavery to speak of the Africans in this way : 
“ stupid and unenlightened hordes ; immersed in 
the most gross and impenetrable gloom of barbarism, 
dark in mind as in body, prodigiously populous, 
impatient of all control, unteachably lazy, ferocious 
as their own congenial tigers, nor in any respect 
superior to these rapacious beasts in intellectual 
advancement but distinguished only by a rude 
and imperfect organ of speech, which is abusively 
employed in the utterance of dissonant and inarti- 
culate jargon.” 1 It must be remembered too, that 
these men only knew negro slaves and there is this 
much truth in Homer’s dictum : the slave loses the 
dignity and self-respect that he possessed as a 
freeman ; the mentality of a slave is a characteristic 
quality. In the same way, men judge the African 
wrongly to-day when they see him out of his natural 
environment. In European townships and labour- 
camps, and even in schools, he often suffers from 
what the psychologists call an “inferiority-complex,” 
which makes him an unpleasant person. 

The colour prejudice is not, I believe, instinctive. 
Here as elsewhere I agree fully with Mr. J. H. 
Oldham. 2 I had an African nurse and was 

^ From a pamphlet, Slavery no Oppression, quoted by R. 
Coupland, Wilherforce {1923), p. 115. 

* J. H. Oldham, Christianity and the Race Prohlem (1924). 
PP. 3 ** 33 . 

G 


82 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


surrounded by black folk in my youth ; I cannot 
recall that their colour ever aroused in me any 
repugnance. But it is unquestionable that the 
physical dissimilarities do account for much of the 
aversion that people feel for the African. The 
coal-black faces and bodies, the odour, and the 
simian features, to which Mr. Putnam Weale 
refers, 1 are taken by many Europeans as marks 
of the beast. Such terms, of course, are exagger- 
ations, for many Africans, though black or chocolate 
in colour, are decidedly good-looking : on coming 
back to England my own feeling was that on the 
average they were more handsome than English 
people. The odour is not always noticeable and 
Africans have told me that the odour of white 
people is unpleasant to them. A missionary’s 
wife once declared confidently in my hearing that 
the black skin was a sign of God’s curse on the 
African. Here the laws of association play a part. 
The Africans associate white with good fortune ; 
we associate black with dirt, soot and the devil. 
Many good people find it difficult to believe that 
a man with a black skin can be other than black- 
hearted. 

The dissimilarities between white and black 
do not stop at physical features. The ordinary 
traveller, ignorant of the language and constitu- 
tionally unfitted to see any good in un-British 
ways, is struck with the tremendous difference 
between the African’s life and his own and can 
hardly help feeling the Africans to be inferior. 

1 B. L. Putnam Weale, The Conflict of Colour (1910), p. 228. 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


83 


It cannot be denied that closer acquaintance may, 
with more reason, deepen the impression. No 
small part of the unenlightened African’s life is 
extremely repulsive to a decent European — the 
uncleanly habits, the infanticide, the lack of 
humanity, the sacrifice of human beings, and so 
on ; only a rose-pink sentimentalism could be 
blind to such things. They do foster a sentiment 
of superiority in the white man. But it is well 
to recall that a decent Roman citizen probably 
had much the same feeling when he first came 
into contact with the early inhabitants of Britain — 
“ those ferocious islanders,” Tacitus calls them, 
“ a fierce and savage people, running wild in woods.” 
We can see that while the Roman historian’s 
judgment was true superficially it erred in not 
taking all the facts into consideration. We know 
now that the prideful Roman was not essentially 
superior to the Britons whom he conquered, and it 
may be that history will in like manner correct 
hasty judgments pronounced upon the Africans. 

It would be easy to compile a long list of these 
superstitions about the Africans, but reference to 
some recent statements will be sufficient as an 
illustration. 

“ Family responsibilities count not at all ” with 
the Bantu, says a semi-official handbook published 
in South Africa.^ The same publication repeats 
the hoary libel uttered ad nauseam at missionary 
meetings, that the Africans purchase their wives. 
One statement is as false as the other. 

' South African Year Booh and Guide, 1925, p. 195. 


G 2 


THE GOLDEN ETOOL. 




" In Africa,” writes the English wife of a French doctor, 

” there are no hereditary beliefs, customs or rites such as 
would serve to keep the family together. 'Wives are bought, 
daughters are sold, and it is only the money or exchange 
transaction which keeps the tie good. . , Their minds are 
empty of any sort of rehgious idea or conviction. The 
Congolese neither play, talk, nor Avork. . . But the primitive 
blacks have acquired a complicated mentality where 
reason has no place. 

There is no need to enter here into a refutation 
of all these errors. The last mentioned, however, 
merits brief examination. 

A medical man who lived in South Africa for a 
short time has said that the brain of the Black is 
different from the White’s, not in degree of quality, 
but in kind. If the divergence were so great as 
he imagined, it would be difficult to understand how 
it is possible for the African to learn our language, 
and for us to learn his. It is a common idea that 
the African’s mind works so diversely from the 
European’s that to think black is, and must always 
remain, an impossible achievement for the White. 
A school of anthropologists, of which M. L4vy-Bruhl 
is the chief spokesman, ^ claims to have discovered 
that " primitive ” man (including modern barbar- 
ians) is incapable of dispassionate and consistent 
observation, is devoid of the power of abstraction, 
unable to draw any benefit from experience and 
cannot construct or comprehend even the most 

1 Gabrielle M. Vassal, Life in French Congo {1925), pp- 91. 
97. M 9 - 

* L. L£vy-Bruhl, Les Fonctions mentales dans Us sociites 
inferieures (1918), English translation, //ow • 

La Mentaliti primitive (1922), English translation. Primitive 
Mentality (1933), 


THE AFRICAN'S WORTH. 




elemeutary laws of nature. He is in a pre-logical 
stage of mentality. These conclusions have recently 
been controverted brilliantly by Dr. Malinowski^ 
who shows that “ every primitive community is 
in possession of a considerable store of knowledge, 
based on experience and fashioned by reason.” It 
cannot be denied that it is difficult for civilized 
men to understand the uncivilized. But that is 
not because the mind of the latter works differently 
from ours. Dr. McDougall is unquestionably right 
in saying that the interval between the modern 
man of scientific culture and the average citizen 
of our modern states is far greater than that between 
the latter and the .savage.- “The English and 
Welsh countr^'-side,” says another scholar, ^ “ pre- 

serve, for those who have eyes to see them, very 
many customs and prejudices which presuppose 
savage mentality ” — which is to say that the 
difference between cultured Europeans and barbar- 
ian Africans is one of education, not of mental 
structure : it is a matter of disparity in dominant 
traditional ideas. The Africans, so far from lacking 
reasoning pow’ers, are ruthless in their logic. Start- 
ing from the belief in the survival of the human 
personality, for example, they argue that a Chief 
requires a retinue in the spirit world, and they 
reach the terrible conclusion that therefore men 
and women must be slain that they may accompany 
him. 

^ Essay in Science, Religion and Reality (1925), pp. 21 sqq. 

• W. McDoug.\ll, The Group Mind (1921), pp. 75, 76. 

* H, J. Rose, Primitive Culture in Greece (1925), p. 2, 


86 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


My experience leads me to confirm what Mr. 
Peter Nielsen, an experienced observer, has written : 

“ I have listened to thousands of old Native men of 
many different tribes in my time, I have heard them speak 
their inmost thoughts, not through interpreters — who ever 
learned anything through an interpreter ? — I have studied 
these people in and out of Court, officially and privately, in 
their kraals and in the veld during many years, and I say 
that I can find nothing whatever throughout the whole 
gamut of the Native’s conscious life and soul to differentiate 
him from other human beings in other parts of the world. "*■ 

Perhaps the greatest mistake that is made in 
regard to the Africans is to argue from their actual 
achievement as a race to their natural ability as 
individuals : that is to say, because the Negroes 
have done so little as a race in the past, we infer, 
a priori, that the Negroes of to-day are defective 
mentally. 

That many Africans show remarkable capacity 
cannot be doubted. The Negro did not change his 
race when he was exported to America and his 
progress there since his emancipation from slavery 
has been truly astonishing. To give one instance 
only : a Negro who was born in slavery has achieved 
an international reputation by his researches in 
chemistry. In British, American and South 
African Universities African students have taken 
excellent degrees. A few years ago, a full- 
blood Congo Negro^ was awarded the Goncourt 
prize in literature in competition with some of the 

I Peter Nielsen, The Black Man’s Place in South Africa 
(1922), p. 81. 

* RENfe Maran, author of the prize novel Batouala (1921). 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


87 


leading writers of France. Many other examples 
might be given, but it will be sufficient to relate 
the following experience of a South African judge, 
Sir Thomas Graham ; 

" Speaking with his wide experience as a Judge, he said 
that he had formed the definite conviction that there was 
no substantial difference in natural ability between the 
White and the Black. At Port Elizabeth a short time 
before he had tried an action, arising out of a labour dispute, 
in which the principal witness on one side was the Native 
secretary of an organization representing 14,000 Bantu 
workers. This man was highly intelligent and gave his 
evidence with the utmost clearness and confidence ; though 
he had a large number of intricate figures and details to 
deal with he never hesitated a moment or made a single 
mistake. After the trial the Judge called the man to him 
and ascertained that he came from Nyasaland. ‘ That 
alone,’ added the Judge, ' was a remarkable thing — a 
Native coming down from Nyasaland and taking charge of 
an organization of Coloured and Native people in South 
Africa, and this man had been educated from a state of 
semi-savagery in a single generation.’ 

It may be objected that Africans who have 
shown such outstanding ability are so few in number 
that one cannot argue from these particular in- 
stances. Yet that some Africans have climbed 
so high surely proves that the mere fact of a pure 
African ancestry is not of necessity a bar to mental 
and cultural advance. Apparent racial inferiority 
may be due, not to a permanent organic disability 
but to relatively superficial factors such as social 
inheritance and lack of opportunity. One must 
remember the very short time that the advantages 

^ W. H. Dawson, South Africa (1925), p. 173. 


88 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


of education have been offered to the Africans. And 
the fact must not be overlooked that in the past 
“ uneducated” Native chiefs and others have shown 
very remarkable ability. Whatever may be said of 
them in other respects (and some of them were 
men of considerable character) such men as Moshesh, 
Sebituane, Msidi, Khama, Chaka, Lobengula, and 
Lewanika certainly did not lack in intellectual 
power. Of Lewanika I was told by a British 
administrator that, all things considered, there was 
no abler diplomat in Europe. 

\Vhy then have the Africans never developed a 
higher civilization ? 

“ The Negroes have no chapter in the history of 
the planet,” says M. Louis Vignon.^ Mr. Putnam 
Weale says that the Asiatic has contributed im- 
mensely to the civilization of the world, has founded 
every great religion that exists. “Not so the black 
man. He is the child of nature — the one untutored 
man who was a helot in the days of Solomon, as 
he is still a virtual slave.” ^ Such writers imply 
that the world owes nothing to the African — and 
never will owe anything to him. This exaggerated 
statement must not be allowed to pass unchallenged. 
Eminent authorities like Sir James Frazer are coming 
to the conclusion that European culture owes 
more to the Africans than has yet been acknow- 
ledged. It is highly probable that Africans 

^ Un Programme de Politique Colonials (1919), p. 41. 

“ Op. cit., p. 233. How untrustworthy a guide this author is 
in things African is shown in his statement that while Christianity 
succeeds in Uganda it fails in South Africa because the people 
there are Bantu. The Baganda are also Bantu. 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


89 


discovered the process of smelting iron. ^ In many 
regions of the continent a civilization of a relatively 
high character had been developed before the 
Europeans came, and apart from Islamic influence — 
civilization quite as high as the Romans found in 
Britain. 

Yet it must be conceded that as a whole the 
Africans never progressed very far. They never, 
for example, invented a system of writing.^ Why 
is it ? To this various answers may be given, 
such as the deadening effect of disease carried by 
insects. If, as has been alleged, the mosquito was 
one cause of the degeneration of the Greeks, may 
it not also have been a factor, coming at an early 
stage, in hindering the further evolution of the 
African ? But perhaps the chief reason was that 
the conformation of the African continent has 
always made intercourse with the outside world 
difiicult. History proves that peoples advance 
under external stimulus and stagnate when that 
stimulus ceases to operate. Peoples do not rise 

^ E. Torday, Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute, 
Vol. XLIII, p. 414 ; “ I feel convinced . . . that we are indebted 
to the Negro for the very keystone of our modem civilization 
and that we owe him the discovery of iron.” He gives his 
reasons in Causeries Congolaises, pp. 230 sq. In his latest 
work Sir James Frazer suggests that the story of the Fall of 
Man contained in Genesis was derived by the Hebrews from 
the negroes, “ wth whom they may have toiled side by side in 
the burning sun under the lash of Egyptian taskmasters." 
The Worship of Nature, {1926) Vol. I, p. 223 sq. 

* This needs a slight modification, for two African peoples 
have possessed such a system. See M. Delafosse, Civilisations 
N igro-Africaines {1925), pp. 127-8. This highly experienced 
administrator demonstrates the existence of a definite African 
culture. 


90 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


independently to a high degree of culture : “ civil- 
ization is a plant much oftener propagated than 
developed.” Our British culture is an outstanding 
example. 

In a previous chapter allusion was made to the 
invasions of “ white ” peoples in Africa. Un- 
questionably these did stimulate the Negro race 
to a limited degree, but the stimulus was not 
continuous and when it ceased the Negro, and even 
the Negroid who had absorbed foreign blood, sank 
into stagnation again. Many of the Africans were 
never affected by this stream from abroad, and 
others only to an infinitesimal extent. This in 
itself is sufficient to account for the position in 
which the Africans were found by Europeans. 
And there is the further fact that for thousands of 
years they have been oppressed by various fears 
and psychologists make clear how these phobias 
may adversely affect the whole life of the people. 

But, we must not commit the error of inferring 
from their past and present state that the Africans 
have no capacity to advance. The limits of a 
people’s power of adaptation and of progress 
cannot be determined from any consideration of 
their history before the stimulus to adaptation 
occurred. 1 Under the new conditions a real 
awakening of mind, a definite naissance, is taking 
place. And the advance made by so many 

^ This is quoted from Professor L. T. Hobhouse by the 
Rev. J. W. Price in his remarkable article, “ The Cultural 
Possibilities of the Negro and Bantu ” in the Holborn Review, 
October, 1925. He develops fully the argument of these para- 
graphs. 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


91 


individual Africans under European guidance may 
be taken as a promise of greater things to come. 
General Mangin, the famous French commander 
of African troops, bears this testimony : 

“ The Negro is probably as competent as the white man 

to handle the scientific instruments of civilization 

I do not deny that he has still to be educated. What I do 
maintain is that he has qualities of head and heart which 
ought not to be treated as negligible. He is by nature 
good and faithful and endowed with a sense of honour, 
and if he is really given the chance, he will reach a high 
level. There is an ilite in the black world capable of 
excelling in all regions of human intelligence." 


IV. 

In earlier days there was some excuse for despising 
the African. Europeans were necessarily ignorant 
of his languages and they had not studied the 
social customs and beliefs. Jean Jacques Rousseau, 
writing in 1754, said : “ The whole of Africa and 
its numerous inhabitants, singular alike in their 
character and in their colour, have still to be exam- 
ined ; all the land is covered with peoples of whom 
we know nothing but their names ; and yet we 
presume to judge concerning the human race ! 

We remember how John Morley describes the way 
in which people of the i8th century talked of 
Vhomme naturel — “ one who had watched bees or 
beetles for years could not give us a more full or 
confident account of their doings.” In the absence 
of facts, philosophic conjectures took their place 

De V inegaliti parmi hs kommes, p. 112. 


92 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


The inductive method is now applied to the study 
of man. And one of the distinguishing features of 
the last fifty years has been an industrious, pains- 
taking collection of the facts concerning the African. 
In this study missionaries and government officials 
have taken the leading share. There remains a 
great amount to be done, but to-day we know the 
Africans as our fathers did not know them. And 
the hopeful thing is that the more we have come 
to know about them, the more we have learnt to 
respect them. We have discovered to be true of 
them what Rousseau predicted falsely would be 
discovered about the gorillas and orang-outangs 
whose existence had been reported in his time ; 
he said that they would prove ni des hUes ni des 
dieux, mats des hommes. Never before, it may be 
safely said, were there so many people convinced 
of the real worth of the African — not as a labourer, 
but as a man. And that conviction is based, not 
upon sentimental considerations, but upon actual 
knowledge. “ Les connattre, c’est les aimer,” truly 
says Mr. Torday.^ 

It is no accident that the post-war period has 
witnessed a greater interest in Africa — and the 
Africans. The loyalty and generosity of the Natives 
during that conflict struck deep into the hearts of 
the British people. While the war diminished in 
some degree the prestige of the \Vhites, it enhanced 
the prestige of the Blacks. Men who fought with 
and against African troops were loud in their 
praises. “ As far as actual fighting is concerned,” 

1 E. Torday, Causeries Congolaises (1925), p, 9. 


THE AFRICAI^S WORTH. 


93 


said one distinguished English general, “ the West 
Africans would be lit to fight alongside any troops 
in the M’orld.” “ Just as good as the best Indian 
soldier when properly trained and officered,” said 
another. It is the way of the British soldier to 
admire bonny fighters whatever side they may be 
on — as Kipling recorded after the Sudan campaign : 

" An’ ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-wuzzy. with your 'ayrick ’ead 
of ’air — 

You big black boundin’ beggar — for you broke a British 
square 1 ” 

So men came back from the war with a new 
respect for the African and a determination to see 
justice done to him.^ East may be East, and 
West, West, 

“ But there is neither East, nor W’est, Border, nor Breed, 
nor Birth, 

When tvvo strong men stand face to face, though they 
come from the ends of the earth.” 

1 Captain W. D. Downes, With the Nigerians in German East 
Africa (1919), pp. 288, 289 : " The Empire owes more recognition 
than has up to date been given to the negro soldier for all that 
ho has had to endure and all the appalling hard.ships in East 
Africa and the Cameroons he has gone through for the sake of 
the Empire. Their deeds have not been done in the limelight 
and the public have heard very little of their doings . . . but, 
my reader, they have fought and conquered, suffered and died, 
for the British Empire. . . I sincerely hope that all the negro 
has done for the British race will not be forgotten, and that 
the welfare of the African will be one of Britain’s first consider- 
ations after the war.” — Some of those who had to do with the 
Carrier Corps had the same feeling. Mr. F. H. Melland, 
after giving the figures already quoted (p. 68, footnote) writes : 
” Perhaps the reader will now understand a little why we are 
rather proud of our natives ; and one reason why we would like 
to do a little more for them, which we cannot do unless the 
people at home will take some interest in them. On their war 
record alone they seem to have earned that interest." — In 
Witch-bound Africa, p. 27. 


94 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


The new attitude is one of respect rather than 
pity. Pity for what old missionaries called " the 
perishing progeny of Ham ’ ’ comes at times peril- 
ously near contempt. Respect means that we 
honour whatsoever there is of good in the African’s 
life, and that we desire to help him to make that 
good better, not by supplanting it with an entirely 
exotic culture, but by stimulating him to develop 
his culture according to his own genius. 

This new attitude of respect underlies Article 22 
of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which 
is rightly considered the Black Man’s Magna 
Charta. It reads : 

“ To those colonies and territories which as a consequence 
of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of 
the States which formerly governed them, and which are 
inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves 
under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there 
should be applied the principle that the well-being and 
development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civiliza- 
tion and that securities for the performance of this trust 
should be embodied in this covenant.” 

This article (to use Burke’s words about another 
document) provides “ a real chartered security 
for the rights of man.” True, at first sight it does 
not bear the significance here attributed to it. 
But to say “ not yet able to stand by them- 
selves ” implies a conviction that some day 
they will be able to stand by themselves — 
that they possess qualities which can be developed 
under sympathetic guidance to a high level. It is 
true, again, that the Article refers specifically only 
to the territories surrendered by Germany. But 


THE AFRICAN’S WORTH. 


95 


the principle of Trusteeship here laid down is of 
universal application, and the British Government 
has definitely extended it to embrace all its African 
dependencies. In 1923 it said : “ As in the Uganda 
Protectorate, so in the Kenya Colony, the principle 
of trusteeship for the natives, no less than in the 
mandated territory of Tangan3uka, is unassailable.” 
The Memorandum of the Advisory Committee on 
Education (accepted in 1925 as a statement of 
Government policy) draws no distinction between 
West and East Africa in referring to the responsi- 
bility of the Controlling Power as trustee “ for the 
moral advancement of the native population.” 
These official documents contain a progressive 
definition of trusteeship — an advance from “ well- 
being and development,” and “ protection and 
advancement,” to “ moral advancement.” The 
Report of the East Africa Commission (1925) 
recognizes that the status of trusteeship “ imposes 
upon the trustee a moral duty and a moral attitude.” 
This represents a wonderful progress from the time 
when the exploitation of the African in the form 
of slavery was the dominant purpose of Britons. 
It is a triumph of Christian principle in the realm 
of high national policy. It looks upon the African 
as primarily a man — not a labourer. He is a ward 
whose guardians pledge themselves to care for and 
educate, imparting to him what they possess to 
the full extent of his present capacity to receive ; 
and looking to the future when he will be able to 
manage his own affairs. Once adopted such a 
principle can never be abandoned for a less worthy 


90 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


ideal. Trusteeship involves a duty that is not 
limited to agents of the Imperial Government and 
to missionaries ; as the East Africa Commission 
declare, it “ lies really upon the shoulders of every 
man and woman of European race in Africa.” 
Every action of Europeans in Africa must be tested 
by this principle as a touchstone. 

Respect for the African’s manhood involves the 
adoption of what Sir Frederick Lugard, in oft-quoted 
words, calls the true conception of the inter-relation 
of colour ; “ complete uniformity in ideals, absolute 
equality in the paths of knowledge and culture, 
equal opportunity for those who strive, equal 
admiration for those who achieve ; in matters 
social and racial a separate path, each pursuing 
his own inherited traditions, preserving his own 
race-purity and race-pride ; equality in things 
spiritual, agreed divergence in the physical and 
material.”^ 

This is the attitude adopted throughout this book. 
It is a position far removed alike from that taken 
by the “ damned nigger ” people and from that of 
a certain writer who seems to think that Pope 
Gregory’s non angli sed angeli was a declaration of the 
Almighty, and who declares “ the Evangelization of 
the world can only come about as a result of the 
ev-Anglo-isation of the world.” The African is 
being cut away from his old moorings. Contact 
with western civilization makes it for ever im- 
possible that he should remain as he is, or get back 
again to where he was. But he is not to be regarded 

1 The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (1922), p. 87. 


THE AFRICAN'S WORTH. 


97 


as a European who happens to be born with a 
black skin. It must be frankly recognized that he 
possesses aptitudes and traditions which, though 
they may differ from those of Europeans, are still 
worth conserving. The Africans must be enabled 
to build something new upon the sound elements 
in their individual character and social system. 
For its enrichment humanity needs, not black 
Europeans, but Africans true to their racial ethos. 

What Robert Bridges writes of nations of 
advanced culture is true also in a measure of 
Africans : 

" Cliina and Ind, Hellas or Franc© 

Each hath its inheritance ; 

And each to Truth’s rich market brings 
Its bright divine imaginings. 

In rival tribute to surprise 

The world with native merchandise." 


II 


CHAPTER V. 


Wherein are Considered some of the Problems 
RAISED BY Commerce and Industry. 

I. 

T he names given to stretches of the West Coast 
of Africa — “ Gum Coast,” “ Grain Coast,” ^ 
“ Ivory Coast,” “ Slave Coast,” “ Gold 
Coast ” — ^indicate the kind of commodity that was 
drawn from those regions in early modern times. 
During four hundred years the principal export 
consisted of black men and women. Slavery has 
existed in Africa from a remote period. Copper 
bangles, which appear to have been slave-fetters in 
use ten thousand years ago, have been unearthed in 
Rhodesia. Negro slaves were possessed in Ancient 
Egypt, and were exported to Crete and Greece. 
In more modern times they were, as they still are, 
taken across the Red Sea into Arabia and other 
countries of the Near East. But it was not until 
after the discovery of America that the slave-traffic 
arose in its most loathsome form. The problem 
became acute of finding labour to cultivate the 

1 “ Grain ” stands for a kind of pepper which was called 
“ Grains of Paradise ” — malaguetta pepper {amomum melegueta.) 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTR Y. 


99 


rich soil of the West Indies and mainland, and 
it seemed that Providence had created the brawny, 
docile Negroes of Africa for the purpose of supplying 
this need. 

British merchants did not begin the traffic, but 
of course they soon succeeded in out-trading their 
rivals. From the day that John Hawkins, in 1562, 
discovered that “ Negros were very good merchan- 
dise in Hispaniola and that store of Negros might 
easily be had upon the coast of Guinea,” British 
capital and enterprise were increasingly engaged 
in trafficking flesh and blood in order that English 
ladies might enjoy sugar in their tea, that English 
gentlemen might indulge in their pipe of tobacco 
and glass of rum, and that English looms might be 
fed with cotton. There has probably never been 
a more lucrative trade in the world. “A great 
part of the wealth which went to build up the 
immense prosperity of Lancashire in the second 
half of the [eighteenth] century, and to make the 
Industrial Revolution possible, was derived from 
the slave trade and the trade with the West Indies 
which was linked with it.”^ 

The slave trade brought wealth to Europe and 
America ; for Africa it was the greatest of calamities. 
It is estimated that from 1680 to 1786, 2,130,000 
negroes were imported into British colonies alone. 
But such figures tell only a small part of the cruel 
tale. To procure victims for the eastern and 
western markets, bands of marauders raided the 

1 Ramsay Muir, A Short History of the British Commonwealth 
(1920), Vol. i,^p. 683. 


H 2 


100 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


interior, provoking quarrels and intestine wars, 
burning, killing, destroying. Livingstone wrote in 
1871 : “It is awful, but I cannot speak of the slaving 
for fear of appearing guilty of exaggerating. It is 
not trading : it is murdering for captives to be 
made into slaves.” The descriptions penned by 
him and other travellers read to us to-day like the 
record of some horrible nightmare. The slave- 
routes were marked by whitened skeletons ; twelve 
per cent, of the slaves who were put on board 
perished at sea ; they were packed between decks 
like herrings in a barrel, or like volumes on book- 
shelves ; and a large number died overseas before 
the sale and during the period of seasoning necessary 
before commencing their labours under new con- 
ditions. Out of every hundred captives shipped 
from Africa only fifty lived to be effective labourer 
on the plantations. The mortality among the 
slaves was enormous : between 1690 and 1820, 
800,000 were landed in Jamaica, yet in the latter 
year only 340,000 Negroes were counted on the 
island. Taking everything into consideration, and 
including the operations of Europeans and Arabs, 
it does not seem an exaggeration for Du Bois to 
say that the slave trade cost Negro Africa 
100,000,000 souls. 1 

The traffic went far to destroy the man-power 
of the continent. What an asset those hundred 
million and their progeny would be to Africa to-day 
when the deficiency in the population is cairsing 


1 Du Bois, The Negro, pp. 155-159. 


COMMERCE AKE> L\DUSTR Y. 


lol 


SO much anxiety ! The slave trade is thus proved 
to have been not only an appallingly cruel business, 
but also an economic disaster. 

Before any nation took steps to proliibit 
the traffic, Adam Smith had demonstrated in 
The Wealth of Nations that slave-labour was 
uneconomic.^ But, as Wilberforce in one of his 
speeches said : “ Interest can draw a film over the 
eyes so thick that blindness itself could do no 
more.” Upholders of the trade were so obse.sscd 
by the immediate profits to be made that they were 
indifferent not only to the sufferings of the Negro 
but to the future and permanent welfare of man- 
kind. Such inhuman folly has been perpetrated 
again and again. No fable is more pertinent to 
the history of Africa than the fable of the man 
who killed the goose that laid golden eggs. 

Seventeen years elapsed between William ^^'ilber- 
force’s first denunciation of the traffic in Parliament 
(1789) and the final passing of the act (1806) which 
made it illegal for British subjects. A further 
period of twenty-seven years passed before slavery, 
as distinct from the slave-traffic, was abolished in 
British dominions. Vast political events, such as 

* " The exp>erience of all ages and nations, 1 believe, demon- 
strates that the work done by slaves, though it appears to cost 
only their maintenance, is in the end the dearest of any. A 
person who can acquire no property, can have no other interest 
but to eat as much and to labour as little as possible. Whatever 
work he does beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own 
maintenance can be squeezed out of him by \iolence only, 
and not by any interest of his own." — Vol. I, page 345 (Everyman 
Edition), The Wealth of Nations was published in 1776; 
Denmark took the first step in 1792 toward abolition of th« 
slave trade. 


102 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the French Revolution and the struggle against 
Napoleon, undoubtedly accounted in part for this 
delay, but vested interests were even more potent 
in hindering the Abolitionists at every turn. Many 
people, who were not unsympathetic, sincerely 
believed that cessation of the trade would mean the 
commercial ruin of the mother-country and the 
downfall of the Empire. The sea-power of Britain 
seemed to be involved in maintenance of the traffic. 
Appeals were made unblushingly to the electors’ 
pockets. Harrowing pictures were drawn of the 
calamitous effects of abolition. Charles James Fox, 
however, in a speech delivered in the House of 
Commons, pronounced the final condemnation of 
the trade : “ I believe it to be impolitic. I know 
it to be inhuman. I am certain it is unjust. I 
find it so inhuman and unjust that, if the Colonies 
cannot be cultivated without it, they ought not to 
be cultivated at all.”^ 

Then as later, men cloaked their selfishness under 
the insufferable cant that slavery was really an 
excellent thing for the slaves. They anticipated 
the old Portuguese official who, in our own day, 
with a glow of noble enthusiasm, expatiated to 
Mr. Nevinson on the philanthropy of slavery : 
“ Both in our own service and at San Thome,” he 
said, “ the slave enjoys a comfort and well-being 
which woixld have been forever beyond his reach 
if he had not become a slave. Sadder still, 
professedly Christian men found arguments for 

’ R. Coupland, Wilberforce (1920), p. 166. 

* H. W. Nevinson, A Modern Slavery (1906). p- 54 - 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


103 


slavery, and persuaded themselves that to hold 
slaves, and even to traffic in them, was not contrary 
to Christianity. John Newton, the author of the 
hymn “ How sweet the name of Jesus sounds,” 
engaged actively in the trade both before and after 
his conversion. “ I never knew sweeter or more 
frequent hours of divine communion than in my 
last two voyages to Guinea,” he said. Twice every 
Sunday as captain he conducted public worship on 
board the slave-ship — a thin plank separating the 
worshippers from the weltering crowd of helpless 
black captives fettered in the noisome cavities 
below deck.i 

The emancipation (in 1834) of 800,000 slaves on 
British territory was “ more than a great event in 
African or in British history. It was one of the 
greatest events in the history of the world. Even 
that did not mean the end. It was not enough for 
one country, even though that country was Great 
Britain, to decree abolition of the traffic and freedom 
of the slave. It only meant that the traders of 
other lands benefited by the withdrawal of a power- 
ful competitor, for slaves w^ere still in demand. 
Great Britain gave money lavishly to induce Spain 
and Portugal to follow her example. International 
agreements were drawn up. And then for many 
years it was thought that at last the iniquitous thing 
was dead. 

That this was not so is known to-day. Neither 

1 The Works of the Rev. John Newton (1835), p. 31, etc. 
R. Coupland, op. cit., p. 37. 

® R. Coupland, op. cit., p. 517. 


104 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


slavery nor the slave trade is extinct — though the 
traffic is diminished to very small proportions. 
Slavery — “ the assumption of property rights in 
another person,” as the Convention proposed by 
the League of Nations in 1925 defines it — still 
prevails in many parts of the world, even under 
the British flag in Sierra Leone and the Sudan. ^ 
The Temporary Slavery Commission reported in 
1925 that there were no fewer than nineteen areas 
in Europe, Asia and Africa where slave-raiding, 
slave-trading and slave-markets exist to a certain 
extent. Notwithstanding the efforts of France and 
Italy, slave-raiding is still carried on in countries 
bordering the Sahara desert. As for slave-deahng 
in Abyssinia : “ There is reliable evidence of recent 
date that many thousands of slaves (an estimate 
which appears to be trustworthy says 10,000) arc 
brought by Abyssinian traders to the north-western 
districts, where slaves are purchasable at any time 
in the markets.” Ras Tafari, the Regent, has 
issued edicts abolishing slave-dealing, but he has 
met with strenuous opposition, for many of his 
people abide by the Mosaic Law w'hich in their 
opinion sanctions the practice.® From the coast 
of the Red Sea, slave-dhows still succeed in escaping 

^ Sir A. R. Slater, the Governor of Sierra Leone, stated when 
opening the 1925-6 session of the Legislative Council, that 
a bill would be inUoduced to remove the last vestige of recog- 
nition by local law of the status of slaverj'. As for the Sudan, 
the Go-vernment has decided that no person bom after the 
reoccupatioa in 1898 is otherwise than free, so that in duo course 
slavery will come to a natural end. 

* A very distressing account of the slave-raiding by Abj'ssinians 
is given by an eye-witness, Major Henry Darloj’, Slaves ami 
ivory (1926). 


COMMEUCE and industry. ioi 

the vigilance of British and other cruisers, and find 
a ready market for all the slaves they can land in 
Arabia. It is devoutly to be hoped that the nations 
who are members of the League will sign and vigor- 
ously enforce the Draft Convention of 1925^ which 
pledges them “ to prevent and suppress the slave 
trade ” and “ to bring about progressively and as 
soon as possible the disappearance of slavery in 
every form.” Some of these nations have already 
agreed by the Convention of St. Germains “ to 
secure the complete suppression of slavery in all 
its forms and of the slave trade by land and sea.”^ 

The enlightened conscience of mankind will no 
longer tolerate what our forefathers supported. 
But vigilance is always necessary. For the circum- 
stances that made slavery and the slave trade 
possible continue to exist. White men still need 
the black to cultivate the ground for them. Now 
as ever helplessness breeds tyranny. Some people 
talk about “ superior germ -plasm,” others of shifting 
many of the burdens hitherto borne by the working 
classes in civilized countries, to the backs of other 
races, in order that we may “ still maintain the 
richness and colourfulness of our culture.”® 

1 Tliis Convention, which will come up for discussion in 
June, 1926, has been described by Sir Frederick Lugard in 
The Nineieenth Century and After, January, 1926. He points 
out its faults, especially in that it embodies a sanction for 
forced labour for private profit. It is to be hoped that this 
clause will be satisfactorily amended. 

* The statements in this paragraph are based upon the 
Minutes and Report of the Temporary Slave Commission 
(A.18.1924.VI : C.426. M.157. 1925. VI; A, 19. 1925, VI.) 

and debate in House of Lords, i6th December, 1925 {Hansard, 
Vol. 62, No. 97). * C. C. JosEY, Race and National Solidarity. 


io6 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Practically this is Aristotle’s argument for slavery. 
If slavery and the slave trade, naked and unashamed, 
stand condemned, we must beware lest they creep 
back in disguise. 


II. 

In 1876 Stanley found these market-prices 
prevailing at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika, one of 
the principal centres of the Arab slave trade ; 
Ivory, per lb. one cloth of four yards of sheeting ; 
a bullock, 10 cloths ; a girl (10-13), 5° to 80 cloths ; 
a girl (13-18), 80 to 200 cloths ; a woman (18-30), 
80 to 130 cloths ; a woman (30-50), 10 to 40 cloths ; 
a boy (13-18), 16 to 50 cloths ; a man (18-50), 
10 to 50 cloths.^ The sheeting thus used for buying 
slaves was the product of British, European and 
Indian looms. ^ Then, as earlier and later, there 
was a demand in Central Africa for such things as 
the factories of Europe could supply. While the 
Abolitionists appealed primarily to the religious and 
humanitarian sentiments of their fellow-countrymen, 
they were not above appealing also to their business 
instincts. Why not, said they, establish real 

1 H. M. Stanley, Through ihe Dark Continent (1878), Vol. II, 
P- 5 - 

* " During the continuation of the slave trade Great Britain 
exported manufactures to Africa to the extent of /i, 000,000 
annually, entirely for the purpose of barter in that trade. It 
is not too much to say that all the other European nations sent 
an equal amount for the same purpose." — J. M’Queen, 
Geographical and Commercial View of N.C. Africa (1821), p. 254. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 107 

commerce in Africa, based upon free labour, to 
displace this wicked traffic ? — it would be more 
profitable in the long run. They knew that in 
the best sense, philanthropy pays. This was, 
however, no mere argumentum ad crmnenam. 
Wilberforce and his colleagues were profoundly 
convinced that commerce may be a humanizing 
agency ; that one sure way of delivering the Africans 
from slavery and a servile mentality, and of 
elevating the race, was to promote free 
industries. 

As early as 1821 that prescient geographer, James 
M’ Queen, ^ was saying that the slave trade would 
never be abolished by force — that a navy stationed 
off the coast of Africa could only lop off branches, 
but that commerce established in the interior 
would attack the roots of the evil tree, dry up its 
juices and supplies. He used the same language 
then as we are using now about the need for new 
markets and the advantages of growing cotton in 
Africa rather than relying upon America.^ While 
the greater part of Africa was still unexplored he 
was proclaiming her ability of producing every 
kind of tropical produce that the world needs. 
“It is by her agriculture alone, the cultivation of 

1 James M'Queen, A Geographical and Commercial View of 
Northern Central Africa (1821) ; A Geographical Survey of Africa 
{1840), passim. 

* “ In the present depressed state of our manufactures and 
commerce, no permanent relief can be hoped for, if new markets 
for our trade be not discovered and established. . . It must be 
of the first importance to our cotton manufacturers to be 
independent of America for a supply of fine cottons. Africa . . . 
can furnish that supply." — Thus was not written in 1926 but 
in 1821. (M’Queen, pp. 212, 218.) 


THE GOLDEX STOOL. 


7oB 

her soil, that Africa can be regenerated, or produce 
that permanent and useful commerce which will 
tend to extend her knowledge, tend to make her 
and her people independent members of the general 
human society, and remove the present bitter evils 
that afflict her.” 

The leaders of the anti-slaver}’' movement needed 
no conversion to such fflews. One of ^^’ilberforce’s 
earliest resolutions in Parliament had recorded the 
need of substituting for slaves the export of “ those 
special products of the African soil which were 
required for the manufactures of this country.” 
Early one morning in 1837 Thomas P'owell Buxton, 
after lying awake all night thinking about slavery, 
said to his son : “ The deliverance of Africa is to be 
effected by calling out her own resources.” Another 
maxim of his ran, “It is the Bible and the plough 
that must regenerate Africa.”^ 

In 1840, Wiiigs, Tories and Radicals, Free Church- 
men and Anglicans, inaugurated a scheme for a 
settlement on the Niger which should embody the 
ideas of Wilberforcc, I^PQueen and Buxton.- The 
expedition was defeated by the mosquito, for out 
of 150 white men who sailed, 42 died within two 
months. This venture is remembered to-day chiefly 
through Charles Dickens’ caricature in B/eak House 
— Mr. Quale and Mrs. Jellyby ; Borrioboola-Gha ; 
and the scheme for teaching the nati^•es to plant 

* Eugene Stock, Histoyy of the Church Missionary Society, 
Vol. I, pp. 451-2 ; Memoirs of Sir T. Fozvell Buxton (Everyman 
Edition), p. 193. 

’ Proceedings at the first pullic meeting of the Society for the 
extinction of the slave trade and for the civilisation of Africa (1840). 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


109 


coffee and turn pianoforte legs for export. The 
project failed calamitously, but it pointed in the 
right direction. The conrdction was dominant in 
the mind of David Livingstone (who, it is interesting 
to remember, attended that meeting in 1840) that 
a righteous commerce was a necessity in Africa; 
“ an open path for commerce and Christianity,” 
he declared it to be his purpose to discover. In 
1859, writing fi'om Nyasaland, he said : “ If our 
countrymen were here they would soon render slave- 
buying unprofitable.” In this region, he declared, 
Englishmen “ might enjoy good health, and also be 
of signal benefit, by leading the multitude of indus- 
trious inhabitants to cultivate cotton, maize, sugar 
and other valuable produce, to exchange for goods 
of European manufacture, at the same time teaching 
them, by precept and example, the great truths of 
our holy religion.”^ 

Words such as these fell on fruitful soil, as 
readers of Mr. Moir’s “ trade romance ”2 will know. 
His company — The African Lakes Company — was 
founded in 1878 for the express purpose of cutting 
the tap-root of the slave trade by introducing 
commerce into the region of Lake Nyasa. 

A righteous commerce enriches both him that 
gives and him that takes. It remains the conviction 
of the truest friends of Africa that trade and industry 
may be of the greatest benefit to the Africans. 

* \V. G. Blaikie, Persov.al Life of David Livingstone (1917 ed ). 
pp. 216, 220. 

* F.' L, M. Moir, After Livingstone , an African Trade Romance 

(1933)- 


no 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Honest exchange of the products of their labour 
confers blessings, not material only but spiritual, 
upon both black men and white. 

III. 

If the development of the resources of Africa 
is beneficial, or might be rendered beneficial, to 
the Africans, it is absolutely indispensable so far 
as the well-being of Europeans is concerned. “ At 
no remote date,” wrote Benjamin Kidd in 1898, 
“with the means at the disposal of our civilization, 
the development of these resources must become one 
of the most pressing and vital questions engaging 
the attention of the Western races.” ^ That no 
remote date has already arrived. The factories, 
not of Europe and the United States only, but also 
of India and Japan, are demanding raw materials 
in ever increasing quantities, and new markets 
for their products. 

No country has greater needs in these respects 
than Great Britain. Its inability to produce within 
its borders either the food it requires or the raw 
materials for its factories, makes it absolutely 
dependent on foreign trade : if goods could not 
be exported, food could not be imported and 
starvation would follow. In 1924 this country 
imported from the tropics, or semi-tropics, 1,462,184 
centals of rubber ; 7,649,000 centals of wool ; 
585,175 cwt. of coffee ; 296,000 tons of palm kernels ; 
86,019 tons of copra ; 99,226 tons of ground nuts ; 

‘ Benjamin Kidd, The Control of the Tropics (1898), pp. 96, 97. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


Ill 


182,673,483 lbs. of unmanufactured tobacco ; 

512.348.600 lbs. of tea ; 35,218,700 cwt. of sugar ; 

37.781.600 cwt. of maize ; and many other com- 
modities in greater or less quantities. Customers 
are needed to purchase our manufactured goods. 
Fresh markets are required. Countries that once 
bought from us are now manufacturing their own 
stuffs. The higher standard of living makes British 
goods so expensive that some peoples who once 
purchased them can no longer afford to do so. 
Everybody who knows anything about it is aware 
that British trade is in a very unsatisfactory position 
and that there is no possible remedy for unemploy- 
ment unless somehow foreign trade can be vastly 
extended. What would it not mean to the forty-four 
million inhabitants of Great Britain if the forty-nine 
million British Africans had a spending power 
equal to theirs ? At present, the great majority 
have practically no spending power at all. The 
development of Africa’s resources, and the education 
of the African masses, would not, it is true, solve 
all our commercial problems, but they would go 
a long way towards solving them. As a people 
we simply cannot afford to neglect Africa. That 
is why Parliament has guaranteed a loan of 
£10,000,000 for the building of new railways and 
roads and for the improvement of harbours in 
British East Africa. 

Certain writers, with whose desire for the well- 
being of Africans and with whose protests against 
their unjust exploitation all sympathy is due, are 
strangely blind to the value of the continent. 


TT-IE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Mr. Leonard Wolf, for example, speaks as if only 
European capitalists benefit by the development 
of Africa and as if, c\'en so, the worth of African 
lands were negligible. He instances Uganda. “ It 
is clear that the incorporation of Uganda [into the 
British Empire] has had no more and no less effect 
upon British trade, industry and emplo5nnent, 
than if it had been sunk in the Indian Ocean and 
blotted off the map of the world.” ^ He wrote this 
in ipip. In 1925 Uganda produced 80,000,000 lbs. 
of cotton and 600,000 lbs. of rubber, and while 
some of the cotton went to Japan and other countries 
much of it came to England. The Lancashire 
cotton-mills are now using over a million pounds 
of African cotton a w'eek, a large proportion of 
it being Uganda cotton. Uganda imported goods 
to the value of about ;^4, 250,000 in 1925, more 
than half being the produce of the United Kingdom 
and of other parts of the Empire ; the balance 
came from other countries and the profit made 
by them adds to the power of purchasing other 
British goods for themselves. Uganda is not so 
negligible as Mr. Wolf believed. The fact is that 
in this, as in other instances, he omits the time 
element from his calculations. The value of the 
aggregate imports and exports of British East 
Africa was under ^1,000,000 in 1905 ; in 1925 the 
figure stood at £ 16 , 000 , 000 . The Royal Commission 
which in 1890 examined the project of a railway to 
Uganda estimated that the line might secure a 

1 Leon.'^rd Wolf, Empire and Commerce in Africa { 1919 ), 
P. 334- 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


”3 


freight of produce and trade goods amounting 
to as much as £ 80,000 per annum. Actually in 
1925 the freight was valued at ;f8,ooo,ooo. Cotton 
piece goods to the value of nearly a million sterling 
were imported from the United Kingdom into 
British East Africa in 1925. These African countries, 
both East and West, are only at the beginning of 
their development. Their value to British trade — 
if only they are wisely managed — is bound to 
grow' tremendously. 

Mr. Wolf argues that if these territories were not 
part of the British Empire there is no reason why 
they should cease to supply raw materials and 
markets — ^negligible as he thinks these to be.^ 
But Uganda, and Nigeria (whose trade is now 
w'orth £ 2 ^, 000,000 a year) would not have remained 
independent had they not come under the British 
flag ; they might well have formed part of the 
French African Empire, and the French do not 
provide in their colonies an open market for the 
world. Had they remained independent (which 
is inconceivable), they could not have developed as 
they have done. ^Tro would have built the 
railw'ays ? And would any one really wish for all 
kinds of traders and industrialists to be let loose 
in Central Africa beyond the control of European 
governments ? 

In espousing the cause of the Africans it is folly 
to minimise the value of Africa. That rich continent 
cannot be allowed to remain undeveloped. It is 
blindness not to see its importance in the ©coaomic 

t,EO?fARD Wot?, Economic Imperialism (1921), p. 57. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


114 

life of the world. The soil has as yet been barely 
scratched, but its pre-eminent wealth has been 
amply demonstrated. 

The gold won from the bowels of the earth in 
the Transvaal (mainly by black hands, directed 
and financed by Europeans) has sustained the 
industrial prosperity of Europe during forty years. ^ 
The labour of Africans in the mines of Katanga 
(again directed and financed by Europeans) helped 
the allies to win the war, for while the Germans 
were raking in the copper utensils from every house- 
hold to make munitions, hundreds of thousands 
of tons of copper came to Britain from these 
mines— -;^io,ooo, 000 worth, at least. During the war 
the happy discovery of a mountain of manganese 
(used in smelting high grades of steel) in Gold 
Coast Colony contributed largely to the efficiency 
of our aeroplanes — to say nothing of the chlorine 
gas made from it. Fifty-five per cent, of the 
world’s total supply of cocoa is grown in the Gold 
Coast Colony. The rubber of Africa, the fibres, 
the hides, the coffee, the sugar, the vegetable fats, 
the fruits, the wool, and a hundred other products, 
enter our factories and homes daily, and make an 
enormous difference to our well-being and comfort. 
More and more we depend upon Africa. 

Cotton has been referred to, but the subject is 
so important that the lesson it teaches must be 
emphasised. British cotton-mills give employment 

^ Lord Burnham : "I do not believe it would have been 
possible to carry on the industries of Europe without the gold 
from South Africa.” 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


”5 


to 630,000 people — directly or indirectly about 
eight millions depend upon the industry. Four 
million bales of cotton a year came into England 
before the war ; m 1924 the figure dropped to 
2,700,000 bales. This material cost about 
£100,000,000 and worked up into cotton goods 
was worth £250,000,000 — the difference between 
the figures representing wages for the most part. 
Four-fifths of the manufactured article were 
exported. 

The bulk of our raw cotton comes at present from 
the United States. For various reasons that need 
not be stated in detail, their crop diminished from 
16,000,000 bales in 1911-12 to 11,290,000 bales 
in 1923-4 : in 1925-6 it rose to over 15,000,000. 
The Americans are using more and more of their 
own cotton (32 per cent, in 1905, 64 per cent, in 
1925) ; their spindles have increased nearly 30 per 
cent, in twelve years. It is estimated that by the 
year 1942 they will be using the whole of their 
crop and no part of it will be available for our 
mills, nor for those of Italy, France and Germany. 
The prospect for our cotton industry is a gloomy one 
— comparable only to the condition realised during 
the American Civil War when all supplies ceased — 
unless in the meantime other sources become 
available. 

India grows much cotton, but of a low-grade ; 
she uses most of what she grows, and exports the 
remainder chiefly to Japan and China : in 1924-5 
only 60,909 bales, out of the total crop of 6,450,000 
came to Great Britain. In the rest of the British 


uO 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Empire, 343,142 bales ^ were produced in the season 
1924-5 and of these Uganda is to be credited with 

170.000 bales — nearly one-half. At present the 
African output is only about one-tenth of what 
Great Britain uses in a bad year and less than 
a hundredth part of the world’s consumption. 
Strenuous efforts are now being made to increase this 
output. At no distant date Uganda may produce 

500.000 bales of first-class cotton suitable for 
Lancashire’s needs. The immense irrigation works- 
constructed in the Sudan will ultimately, it is said, 
bring a million acres under cultivation, and of 
these, about 100,000 acres are now producing 
cotton. Nor does this exhaust the possibilities. 
It is calculated^ that in the countries ranging from 
Abyssinia to Bechuanaland (excluding Belgian 
Congo and Angola) the cultivable area is about 
equal to that in the United States and that 
90,000,000 acres are suitable for cotton-growing. 
The U.S.A. produced its 1923-4 crop of 11,290,000 
bales on 38,700,000 acres. At the same average 
rate of 144 lbs. of lint to the acre, this African area 

1 American bales weigh 500 lbs ; British, 400. The facts 
and figures given above are derived in part from an article by 
Robert L. Lowy in the English Review (February, 1925) ; in 
part from a speech made by Mr. Sandeman in the House of 
Commons {Hansard, July 27, 1925) ; and in part from information 
supplied by Mr. H. Worsley, of the British Cotton Growing 
Association. 

* The reservoir created by the Sennar Dam on the Nile, 
officially opened in January, 1926, holds sufficient water to 
.supply the needs of Greater London for about two years. The 
dam is nearly tv/o miles long and contains a million tons of 
masonry. 

^ By H. L. Shantz (of the Bureau of Plant Industry U.S. 
Department of .\griculture) in Edwation in East Africa 

p. 353. sqq. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


ity 


should be able to produce 28,510,000 bales (of 500 
lbs.), which is nearly 7,000,000 in excess of the world's 
total consumption in 1924. Wdiether this can be 
done depends almost entirely upon population — a 
subject to be considered in the next chapter, 

So far as can be seen at present, the future of 
the British cotton industry depends upon the 
cultivation of some of these vast areas. In other 
words, the destiny of Lancashire lies in the lands 
of Africa. 

IV. 

At one time I thought of entitling this book, 
“The Nigger Question Up to Date.” I had in 
mind that terrific “ occasional discourse ” which 
the humour of Thomas Carlyle ascribed, whether 
as orator or reporter, to one Phelim M’Quirk.^ 
How very modem some of the language is ! The 
West Indian Negroes are pictured “ sitting yonder 
with their beautiful muzzles up to the ears in 
pumpkins, imbibing sweet pulps and juices.” Let 
them be worked ! cries our M’Quirk. 

■' No black man ^vho will not work according to what 
ability the gods have given him for working, has the 
smallest right to eat pumpkin, or to any fraction of land 
that will grow pumpkin, however plentiful such land may 
be ; but has an indisputable and perpetual right to bo 
compelled, by the real proprietors of said land, to do 
competent work for his living. This is the everlasting 
duty of all men, black or white, who are born into this 
world. . . Induce him, if you can . . . but if your Nigger 
will not be induced ? In that case, it is full certain, be 
must be compelled." 

1 First printed 1849. Latter-Day Pamphlets, pp. i sqq. 


ri8 THE GOLDEN STOOL. 

To the M’Quirks of Carlyle’s generation and our 
own, the Nigger Question is a matter of getting 
the black man to work for the M’Quirks’ advantage. 
Any “ work ” that the black man may do for himself 
is not work. They preach to-day as eloquently as 
ever the duty and nobility of labour — not always, 
however, as the duty of black and white. In this 
respect, our M’Quirks sometimes fall behind their 
prototype. 

The M’Quirks’ oratory may amuse us, or it 
may arouse indignation. But the facts must be 
squarely faced. The development of the resources 
of Africa, which has become a serious and pressing 
question, can only be accomplished by the collabo- 
ration of capital and labour. Under present 
conditions in tropical Africa, European labour is 
out of the question. Chinese or Indians might be 
imported, but previous experiments have shown 
that this creates more problems than it solves. 
Co-operation between Europeans and Africans seems 
to be the only practicable plan. It is idle to 
suppose that if left entirely to themselves the 
Africans would in the future, any more than in 
the past, make the best of their land from our 
point of view : not because they are unintelligent 
and incapable of labour, but because they need 
training and supervision and because apart from 
railways and ships built by Europeans they have 
no means of exporting their produce. Co-operation 
is the word. The goods are wanted, but our 
conscience demands consideration of the conditions 
under which they are produced. We are no longer 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 119 

content that all the advantages shall be reaped by 
ourselves — that the Africans shall pay with their 
blood and tears for our prosperity. And the 
question now takes this form : How, in conformity 
with the respect that is due to the manhood of the 
Africans, can these be induced to co-operate effect- 
ively with Europeans in developing the resources 
of the continent for their mutual advantage ? 

The solution of the problem is attended by many 
difficulties. The African is capable of working and 
does work. It is high time that the notion of his 
incurable idleness was abandoned.^ Even to 
produce “ pumpkins,” Dr. Phelim M’Quirk, entails 
some work ! Not all African soil and climatic 
conditions are such that food stuffs will grow 
without strenuous cultivation. The African in his 
natural state does work ; he does not leave it all 
to his women. The demand now made by the 
Europeans upon them is that in addition to growing 
their own food, building their own houses and 
tending their o\vn cattle as heretofore, the Natives 
shall grow crops for export, undertake all the navvy- 
work on roads and railways, excavate mines, till 
and harvest plantations and act generally as the 
hired servants of the whites. It is a considerable 

^ See for example the irrefutable statements made by W. H. 
Dawson [South Africa, p. 161) : " The truth is that he (the 
Native) does not need one- half of the apologies which benevolently 
disposed defenders are in the habit of advancing on his behalf. 
A general accusation of indolence is absolutely unjustifiable — 
so much so as to be ludicrous . . . the Native confutes his 
critics by his daily life. . . He carries the entire mining industry 
upon his shoulders. He works the 85,000 European farms 
of the country besides his own,” etc. 


THE GOLI>i:N STOOL. 


S 20 

dtiiiand to niake upon people who, before the 
Europeans came, knew nothing of earning wages, 
nothing of leaving home to seek employment ; 
who, while they worked diligently on their own 
lands and in their own villages, during periods 
when it was necessary, were never accustomed to 
labouring on contract, without intervals for rest 
and recreation, for six months or longer ; and 
whose wants were few and simple. It is not 
sufficiently realised what a revolution such a demand 
causes in the African’s manner of life. 

There are two methods by which the desired 
co-operation may be attained : first, by persuading 
the Native to cultivate economic crops on his own 
land in addition to his own food-stuffs ; and second 
by employing him as a wage-earner. Both methods 
are actually in operation. 

The first method is generally adopted in British 
West Africa, and it is being used in Uganda and 
elsewhere with gratifying results. Since the first 
cocoa-plant was brought into the Gold Coast Colony 
by a Native and the first eighty pounds of cocoa 
were exported in 1891, the industry has expanded 
till in 1924 the out-put rose to 223, 329 tons and 
the Colony has become the premier producer in the 
world. Neither this cocoa industry, nor the ground- 
nut and palm-oil industry of Nigeria is dependent 
on European capital so far as actual production 
is concerned, though a great deal of it is employed 
in collecting, shipping and marketing the produce. 
A missionary of the C.M.S. (Mr. Burrup) introduced 
Cotton-seed into Uganda and the crop, entirely 


COMMERCE ANt> IS’DUSTRY. 


12I 


grown by Natives, has grown from eight bales in 
1904 to about 200,000 in 1926. In Tangan5rika 
Territory the more recent encouragement by the 
Administration of Native production has been 
vindicated by the output and by the increased 
prosperity and contentment of the Natives : in 
1924, rather more than 50 per cent, of the coffee 
and about 75 per cent, of the cotton was grown by 
Natives.^ The European Governments co-operate 
by means of the encouragement and expert advice 
given by officials of the Agricultural Department, 
and by providing transport ; the traders by 
collecting and exporting the crops. 

Various dangers attend this system. The sudden 
acquisition of wealth is apt to unbalance the 
native mind. In favour of crops which bring him 
money, the Native may neglect to grow sufficient 
food for himself and his family, or may throw the 
entire burden of this upon his wife, or wives. The 
inexperienced and careless African farmer may 
easily be worsted in the incessant struggle against 
insect pests and plant-disease — ^whence the need 
for agricultural education and for sedulous super- 
vision by European experts. The palm-oil and 
kernel trade, the biggest trade of the West Coast, 
is, so far as cultivation and preparation are con- 
cerned, in the hands of Africans, but its supremacy 
is threatened by the competition of the Dutch 
East Indies where large areas are worked on 
scientific lines : and unless the Africans can learn 
better methods the industry is doomed. These are some 

* Qovernment Report for 1924 (Colonial No. ri, 1925). 


122 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


of the evident drawbacks which require the attention 
of their European guides. But, on the other hand, 
the system has its advantages, of which cheapness 
of production is perhaps the least. As Sir Frederick 
Lugard says, “ The native holder occupies a higher 
status, and working in his own sole interests and 
at his own time will produce more than if working 
for another.”^ Booker Washington was right in 
saying : “ There is all the difference in the world 
between working and being worked.” 

“ Native production,” says the East Africa 
Commission, “ should be encouraged, trained, and 
supervised ... by training the native to become 
a better and more progressive agriculturist on his 
own land we shall be adopting one of the best 
means to his economic, moral, and social advance- 
ment. 

Admirable as this system is, it does not preclude 
the necessity for the employment of wage-earners. 
Railways and roads must be constructed if the 
native-holdings are to be successful ; mines have to 
be worked ; and there are certain kinds of crops 
which must be grown somehow, somewhere, and 
which cannot be grown except on plantations 
owned and managed by Europeans : for all these 
and other things labourers are needed. To attract 
this labour is not always easy, especially where 
the population is scant and the Natives are 
encouraged to grow economic crops for export. The 
two systems then become rivals : and East African 


* The Dual Mandate, p. 419. * Report, p. 36. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


123 


settlers at their wits’ end for labour are provoked 
to denounce the growing of cotton by Natives as 
“ Manchester slavery.” 

To induce Natives to work various methods are 
used, which may be classified thus : i. Force ; 
2. Persuasion ; 3. Forceful persuasion — “ the 

benevolent whip ” of Dr. Phelim M’ Quirk. 

The method of enslavement, pure and simple, 
has become for ever impossible so far as Christian 
Europeans are concerned. But the needs are so 
urgent, and some men in their hurry to be rich are 
still so blind to the well-being of future generations 
and, it must be said, so inadequately alive to the 
claims of humanity where their own immediate 
interests are in conflict therewith, that they may, 
and at times do, succumb to the temptation of 
adopting methods that are in reality scarcely, if 
at all, distinguishable from slavery. 

K Happily a League of Nations is in being. Those 
Powers which administer African territories as 
Mandatories of the League must submit annual 
reports and undergo cross-examination by an 
international Commission, whose minutes are pub- 
lished. No doubt it is strange that Great Britain, 
whose standard of administration is so high, should 
have to submit to questioning by a national of 
Portugal, whose standard is so deplorably low ; 
but even the best administration is not immaculate, 
and the critics, if their criticisms are not to sound 
ridiculous to the world, must feel compelled to 
labour hard to bring their own country’s policy 
and practice at least as high as the standard of 


124 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


those upon whom they sit in judgment. For these 
to attend meetings of the Mandates Commission 
is like going to school, The Mandates, with their 
insistence that territories shall be administered 
not solely in the interests of the mother-country 
but also in the interests of the Natives, will become 
a model for governments other than mandatories. 
The trouble is that resolutions adopted in Geneva 
depend for their efficacy upon people in Africa, 
some of whom regard the idea of Trusteeship as 
mere sentimental bosh. The International Labour 
Office is also concerning itself with African con- 
ditions of labour. It may be confidently expected 
that certain practices which have prevailed will 
be abandoned. 

Forced labour, which in one form or another is 
sanctioned by every Government in Africa, is of 
tw'o kinds wffiich must be clearly distinguished : 
I. Forced labour for purposes of State ; 2. 

Forced labour for private gain. These are again 
to be classified according as the labourers are 
remunerated or not. Unpaid compulsory labour 
is commonly employed for the repair and mainte- 
nance of roads in the vicinity of native villages. 
Remunerated compulsory labour is resorted to for 
the building of raihvays and for the porterage of 
government stores when voluntary workmen cannot 
be obtained. The French, Portuguese and Belgian 
governments would seem to use this method freely 
in the public service ; the British government 
sanctions it reluctantly and imposes stringent 
safeguards. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 125 

This system, which is liable to obvious abuses, ^ 
is defended on the grounds that every State has the 
right to the services of its citizens ; in the debate 
on the subject in the House of Lords Viscount 
Cecil instanced the compulsion a man is under to 
clear the snow from before his doorstep, and Lord 
Raglan asked, in reply to criticism, What about 
jury service ? I believe that a democracy has the 
right of calling up all citizens for military service 
in time of need, and if this be conceded it cannot 
be denied that the State has in the abstract the 
right to conscript citizens for necessary and urgent 
civil work in time of peace. But the justice of 
selecting particular classes for this compulsory 
service is open to doubt — it should be imposed 
upon all, if upon any ; and the justice of forcing 
the Africans alone to construct railways which are 
for the benefit of the entire community, white and 
black, can be called in question. “ If,” says Sir 
Harry Johnston, “ the public needs require that 
labour should be forced for public works or public 
emergencies, the resident White man must obey 
the call as much as the Native.”- If white men 

‘ It was stated, on good authority, in 1925, that on the 
Midland Railway in French Cameroons men had worked seven 
months without pay and it was admitted by the authorities 
that the death-rate was about 80 per 1,000. Doctors were 
employed in the proportion of one to 6,000 workmen. (Minutes 
of Permanent Mandates Commission, C.386, M.132. 1925. VI, 
pp. 41, 42.) In July, 1925, the Supreme Court of Kenya 
quashed the conviction by a magistrate of certain natives who were 
siUeged to have refused a call to compulsory labour on a railway. 
The Court found that the authority of the Secretary of State 
]>ad not been proved for this work. {The Times, July 31, 1925,) 

* Sis H. H. Johnston, The Backward peoples and our relations 
wiih them (1920), p. 60. 


126 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


cannot do this work, they should pay an equivalent 
in cash and their land, whose value is enhanced by 
the passing of a railv/ay through it, should be taxed 
to meet part of the cost of the line. At present. 
Natives are compelled both to work and to pay 
taxes. On the average a Native of Kenya pays for 
himself and his dependents thirty shillings a year 
in direct taxation, while a European may own a 
hundred thousand acres of land traversed by a 
railway, and pay no more than thirty shillings a 
year in direct taxation, irrespective of the line. 
It would be more in accordance with equity to 
abolish compulsory labour entirely. This, however, 
goes beyond the recommendations of the Temporary 
Slavery Commission, the provisions of the Mandates, 
the draft Convention on Slavery, and the principles 
of the Anti-Slavery and Aborigines Protection 
Society, all of which consent to compulsory or 
forced labour on the part of the Blacks for essential 
public works and services if paid. 

On the other hand, no argument can be sustained 
in favour of forced labour for private profit. Lord 
Cromer stigmatized it as “ wholly unjustifiable and 
as synonymous with slavery.” It is no longer 
permitted in British territory but prevails elsewhere. ^ 

1 When he was requested, in 1925, to supply labourers for the 
farnaers, Sir John Chancellor, Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 
replied : " All I can say is that that will never do. . . Every 
subject of the King is free to enter into a contract or to abstain 
from entering into a contract for the disposal of his labour. 
Any measures taken by Government to apply compulsion to 
natives to secure an adequate supply of labour for private 
employers would be opposed to the traditional policy of His 
Majesty’s Government and would be altogether repugnant to 
the sentiment of the Imperial Parliament.” — Anti-Slavery 
Reporter, January 1926. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


127 


According to the investigations of an American 
sociologist, Dr. Ross,^ both in Mozambique and 
Angola the Portuguese compel men and women to 
labour on the roads without payment and, more- 
over, supply private individuals with this forced 
labour. In Mozambique “ the standard term of 
compulsory labour is six months of 30 working 
days each.” Dr. Ross saw children as young as 
twelve years, and women nearing the time of their 
delivery and women carrying infants on their backs, 
all working on road-making. The labourers are 
recruited by native policemen, men of the most 
brutal character, who make full use of their oppor- 
tunities to extort money, to beat and rape. The 
planters, traders and hotel-keepers to whom forced 
labourers are assigned, cheat them of their wages 
in a most despicable fashion. After serving six 
months they may receive sufficient to pay the 
head-tax, and return home having gained nothing 
more than bitter experience. If only ten per cent, 
of the statements made in Dr. Ross’s report are 
true, such treatment is an infamous scandal. No 
wonder that the Natives cannot cultivate sufficient 
food for themselves and that many thousands 
have migrated across the border into British 
territory. 2 The Portuguese, by their inhuman 

1 Edward Alsworth Ross, Report on Employment of Native 
Labour in Portuguese Africa, New York, 1925. I understand, 
it is only right to say, that the Portuguese deny the accuracy 
of Dr. Ross’s statements. 

“The Nyasaland Census of 1921 reckoned that of one tribe 
inhabiting Portuguese East Africa 108,204 persons had crossed 
the border. No statistics relating to other territories are avail- 
able. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


i^$ 

folly, are ruining some of the fairest lauds of the 
continent. 

In French West Africa a fiscal labour levy 
{prestation) is imposed. Adult males between the 
ages of 15 and 60 are obliged by law to work for 
the State for a term not exceeding 15 days a year. 
The Mandate given to France for part of Togoland 
and of the Cameroons provided that all forced or 
compulsory labour should be prohibited except for 
essential public works and services and then only 
in return for adequate remuneration. The French 
deny that the prestation constitutes a violation of 
this rule, because, though the Togoland natives are 
expected to work four days, and the Cameroons 
natives for ten days, without pay, the levy is corn- 
mutable for a money payment of one franc a day — 
the natives are not rendering a service, but paying 
a tax. Sir Frederick Lugard rightly contended at 
the meeting of the Mandates Commission that you 
cannot legitimize forced labour by labelling it 
“ fiscal.” 

The old iniquitous system in Belgian Congo, 
under which the natives were brutally compelled 
to gather rubber in lieu of taxes, has happily passed 
away, but the record remains to point the danger 
of forced labour. 

The second method of inducing Natives to work 
is that of persuasion. How effectual this may 
be depends upon the needs felt by the Native of 
earning money and on the inducements held out 
to him in tlie way of good wages and prop>er 
treatment, It is almost universally admitted tfiat 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. i2g 

some settlers never have difficulty in securing all 
the labour they need, while others are always in 
trouble. The former know how to handle the 
men ; the latter do not. 

It is a widespread custom to gather labour by 
means of agents of a recruiting organization, who 
enter into contracts, supervised by a magistrate, 
with the Natives. Many men prefer to seek work 
for themselves, but where these organizations are 
skilfully and humanely run they offer many 
advantages to the natives, especially when these are 
to work at great distances from their homes. They 
are looked after on the road, receive medical 
attention and at the close of the contract are 
repatriated with their wages. 

Even the best system on paper may, in the absence 
of stringent supervision, become the means of 
oppression. The so-called indent ured-labour which 
obtained in Portuguese West Africa, and which has 
been exposed and to some extent, at any rate, 
reformed, looked very well on paper, but in reality 
was nothing but slavery : all the pretence of signing 
contracts was, as Mr. Nevinson said, nothing but 
“ a dodge to delude the anti-slavery people.” He 
described it as “ one of the blackest crimes which 
even Africa can show.”^ 

The third method of obtaining labour is that of 
“ forceful persuasion.” Under this term may be 
included all such things as depriving the Natives 
of their land, the enactment of vagrancy laws, and 
the imposition of direct taxes, with a view to 

^ Henry W. Nevinson, A Modern Slavery (1906), p. 58. 

K 


THE ( 30 LDEN STOOL. 


130 


inducing the people to work for wages. The highest 
authorities, such as Sir Frederick Lugard,^ agree 
that while taxation of the Africans by European 
Governments is legitimate and has an excellent 
educative effect, the primary object of the tax 
should not be to compel them to labour or to provide 
revenue. But the Governments have frequently 
acted against this principle and rather on the 
lines enunciated by a former Governor of British 
East Africa who said, “ We consider that taxation 
is the only possible method of compelling the 
native to leave his reserve for the purpose of seeking 
work,”^ They have imposed a tax of say four 
shillings with the alternative of a month’s labour ; 
or have allowed a rebate of 50 per cent, if the man 
could prove that he had worked for a European 
for a period ; or have remitted the tax altogether in 
case of continuous employment. Taxes vary in 
amount, but they are often the equivalent of a 
month’s wages or more. 

Lack of space forbids my entering more fully 
into the subject of taxation, whether direct, by 
means of hut or poll tax, or indirect by means of 
customs duties, railway rates, and so on. Its 
incidence is often unfair. The Native is in some 
colonies made to contribute more than his share 
to the public revenue, and in effect subsidizes the 
European settlements. A more equitable system 

^ The Dual Mandate, p. 235. Chapters XII and XIX should 
be carefully studied. 

• Sir Percy Girouard in 1913. Quoted by Norman Leys, 
Kenya, p. 186. 


COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY. 


131 


would be to return a large part of the money to 
the natives in direct ways that he could appreciate 
— in educational and medical facilities, for example, 
which, as is generally admitted, are inadequate at 
present. 

Other indirect methods are for the magistrates 
and Native Commissioners to instruct, or advise, 
or encourage. Native chiefs to send men out to 
work. This, it is now recognized, may be liable 
to abuse, for the Natives and their chiefs take 
official advice and encouragement as commands. 
Sometimes the latter make it a means of petty 
tyranny. Sir Frederick Lugard tells of a headman 
who was also a butcher and who took the opportunity 
of getting rid of his competitors in the village by 
compelling all the butchers to go out to work ! The 
British Government has disallowed the practice. 

These various forms of compulsory or semi- 
compulsory labour have often been defended on the 
ground that, while in themselves objectionable, they 
are permissible as temporary measures to accustom 
the Natives to work for the European. There may 
be something in this, but it is generally recognized 
that forced labour is uneconomic : it is certainly 
attended by many grave abuses. After all, it is hard 
to justify the white man’s presumption that he 
has a natural right to enter Africa, dominate the 
people, take their land and compel them in some 
way to labour for his benefit. My own faith in 
the^ virtue of|hard|work is as fervent as Dr. Phelim 
M’Quirk’s. While in Africa I preachedjthe Gospel 
of Labour by precept and example. Industrious 


K 2 


132 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


habits are the foundation of all strong character. 
The words that Robert Louis Stevenson addressed 
to the Samoans who built for him, “ The Road of 
the Loving Heart ” should be displayed in every 
schoolhouse in Africa (with the alteration of 
“ Samoa ” into “ Africa ”) : “ WTio is the true 

champion of Africa ? ... It is the man who 
makes roads, who plants fruit trees, who gathers 
harvests, and is a profitable servant before the 
Lord, using and improving that great talent that 
has been given him in trust . . . because all 

things in a country hang together like the links 
of the anchor cable, one by another ; but the anchor 
itself is industry.” But the only legitimate method 
of inducing the African to work harder is to raise 
his standard of living, creating new ambitions and 
needs by a rational system of education. 


CHAPTER VI. 


Wherein are considered the Fundamental 
Questions of Population and Land. 

I. 

T he area of Africa, including Madagascar, is 
estimated to be 11,660,000 square miles. In 
other words, it occupies a space nearly three 
times the size of Europe, nearly four times that of the 
United States of America, and ten times that of 
British India. The whole of Europe, India, China 
and the United States could be comfortably tucked 
within its borders. Yet the population of Africa 
does not exceed 130,000,000^ — ^much less than half 
that of British India, a tenth of its area. Spread 
over the whole continent, the population averages 
about eleven persons to the square mile. Even 
when every allowance is made on account of deserts, 
lakes and mountainous regions, the density compares 
very unfavourably with that of other countries. 
The main island of Japan carries 649 persons to the 
square mile — as do England and Wales ; Bengal, 
608 ; and parts of Belgium, over 1,200. Outside 

^ Sir Leo Chiozza Money’s figure is 129,414,700. (The 
Peril of the White, p. 189.) 


t34 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the Delta of the Nile, where 939 persons are crowded 
to the square mile, the densest rural population in 
Africa would seem to be in Southern Nigeria, 
where some districts number over 300 to the square 
mile, and in parts of Kavirondo bordering on 
Lake Victoria, where, it is said, eleven hundred 
persons are crowded to the square mile. The 
province of Kano in Northern Nigeria carries an 
average of 116 ; Gold Coast Colony, 50 ; Basutoland, 
42 ; Kenya and Tanganyika, ii ; Northern Rhodesia, 
3. Some areas are inhabited by less than one 
person to the square mile. 

Why is the population of Africa so scanty ? 

The slave trade, as we have seen, cost perhaps 
100,000,000 lives. The inter-tribal wars, except 
for such sanguinary conflicts as that associated 
with the Zulus, in which it is said two millions of 
people were destroyed, may not in particular 
instances have been attended by a great mortality, 
but in the aggregate they must have diminished 
the population considerably. The customs of the 
people — the human sacrifices and the slaying of 
men, women and children on the death of a chief, 
the smelling-out of witches, the infanticide, the 
widespread practice of abortion — have been 
important factors in the case. The long lactation 
period, extending over two or three years, may 
limit the size of families. Whether this is balanced 
by the effect of polygamy is doubtful. Unquestion- 
ably, polygamists occasionally produce large 
families ; the last South African Census reports 
one Native who had 55 wives, 51 sons and 42 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 135 

daughters ; but no wife had more than three 
children, and the question must be asked, How 
many young men were prevented from marrying 
by this monopolist ? Mr. Strachan investigated 
the affairs of 393 South African women, wives or 
widows of monogamists, and 591 wives and widows 
of polygamists ; the former had borne an average 
of 5.65 children, the latter an average of 5.58. 
Mr. J. H. Harris and other writers have recorded 
similarly inconclusive figures. My own impression 
is that polygamy is not generally conducive to a 
high population. 

Life is not easy for Central African peoples ; 
deaths by starvation and by misadventure are 
numerous. It is quite a mistake to suppose that 
they are relatively immune from disease. Apart 
from venereal and tubercular diseases introduced 
by foreigners, severe epidemics of measles, plague, 
influenza and smallpox have periodically swept off 
great numbers, while endemic diseases (malaria, 
dysentery, yaws, sleeping-sickness, bilharzia, 
pneumonia, leprosy, hookworm, cancer,^ and others) 
has had almost unchecked sway. There are areas 
where hookworm affects 70 or 80 per cent, of the 
population. Vast regions in the tropical zone, 
aggregating almost a third of the continent, are 
infested with the tsetse-fly, the various species of 
which are responsible for sleeping-sickness among 
human beings and the no less deadly nagana-disease 
among domestic cattle. In the areas domdnated by 

^ It is supposed sometimes that cancer is confined to highly 
eivnlized nations, but 622 person* died of it in Uganda during 

1923. 


136 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


this pest, no cows can be kept, and lack of milk 
is detrimental to the stamina of the inhabitants, 
to that of the children especially. A native chief 
told Mr. Ormsby-Gore that his tribe had decreased 
from 10,000 to 4,000 in four years owing to the 
death of the cattle through the invasion of tsetse. 

Generally speaking the birth-rate is low and the 
rate of infant mortality is appallingly high. The 
low birth-rate is due to disease (chiefly venereal), 
to deliberate restriction in some instances, to the 
precocity and promiscuity of sexual relationship in 
others. The high death-rate of children is due to 
mal-nutrition, ignorance of child-nurture, disease 
and the practice of infanticide. In European 
countries the deaths of children up to five years 
of age vary from 40 to 120 per mille: in England 
during 1925 out of every thousand children born 
seventy-five died before they were a year old. 
Even in relatively civilized African towns such as 
Lagos and Accra the infant mortality varies from 
350 to 483 per thousand. In the Kingdom of 
Uganda an official report shows it to have been 
226 per thousand in 1923. In Kenya it is estimated 
at over 400 per thousand. Among the Baila we 
reckoned that from 50 to 70 per cent, of the infants 
died. In one district of Belgian Congo, Dr. Schwetz^ 
found, by actual count, that for every 1,000 adult 
women, 2,685 children were born ; and of these, 
1,466, i.e., 550 per mille, were living, and 1,219, 
i.e., 450 per mille, were dead. A considerable 
proportion of the women had borne no children. 

1 J. ScHWETZ, in Congo, March, 1924, p, 350. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 1^7 

This was a sleeping-sickness area. In another 
district Dr. Schwetz counted 12,356 mothers and 
4,429 childless wives. 

“ Do you wonder,” asks a medical missionary, “ that 
even the healthy-born kiddies of Africa die in such large 
numbers ? Exposure with its sequelcB of bronchitis and 
pneumonia, and mad feeding, with its stomach diseases 
and its dysenteries, kills them off like flies in the flrst two 
years.” 

He tells of a woman who one night bore a child 
in a shanty out in the fields ; at dawn she slung 
the naked child on her back, under a ragged old 
skin, and walked through the long sodden grass to 
the village. They arrived drenched with water and 
shivering. Next day he saw her cramming down 
the child’s throat a porridge made of manioc 
tubers. He adds : 

“ She is a first-class mother and was following the best 
traditions of mothercraft.”’- 

Every missionary in Central Africa is familiar 
with such sights as this. 

When one considers the conditions of life that 
have prevailed in Africa, one is not surprised that 
the population is so small. The wonder is rather 
that there are any people at all. 

There can be no doubt that the European 
invasion has, directly and indirectly, brought about 
a diminution of the population in some parts of 
Africa. Here, however, caution must be exercised. 
It is only within recent years that anything like 
an accurate enumeration of the people has been 
made : and even now the figures are, in most cases, 

^ G. E. Tilsley in World Dominion, September, 1925. 


138 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


admittedly only approximate. Even where recent 
estimates are fairly reliable, we rarely possess 
statistics of any value made thirty years ago, and 
it is therefore impossible to arrive at an accurate 
judgment in the matter. An example of the doubts 
thus caused is offered by the Census of Northern 
Nigeria, taken in 1921. An estimate made soon 
after the British occupation put the population at 
twenty millions, but this was soon discovered to 
be far too high. For the first “Census,” of 1911, 
we have three sets of figures : the Residents 
calculated the population to be 8,115,981, but the 
Acting Governor added about a million on his own 
account, and the Blue Book gave a rather less 
figure than his. The “ Census ” of 1921, though 
substantially accurate, is not claimed to be faultless. 
For a small staff of Europeans to count these millions 
on a single day was out of the question ; the work 
was spread over a period and was conducted 
largely by careless and untrained native officials 
who were not above omitting their friends, “with 
a view ” says the Commissioner “ to the conceal- 
ment (as they thought) of their taxable capacity.” 
Many villages being still beyond the control of 
Government, their inhabitants had to be guessed. ^ 
In other countries, the total figures are based upon 
the numbers of hut-tax payers and are only approxi- 
mate. We therefore have to work upon estimates, 
not upon precise enumerations. And for a 
comparison with ten, twenty, or fifty years ago, 

C. K. Mehk, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria (1925), Vol. II, 
pp. 169 sqq. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 139 

we have in most cases to rely upon impressions 
formed by authoritative observers. 

Such facts as we possess do not substantiate any^ 
reckless statement that ever5Avhere the population r 
has diminished since Europeans assumed control. 
The North Nigerian figures show, for example, that 
between igii and 1921 the people increased from 
8,115,981 to 9,998,314 In South Africa, where the 
Census is more reliable, the non -European population 
increased by 2,630,000 in thirty years, notwith- 
standing the high rate of mortality at the mines 
and the ravages of influenza and tuberculosis. 
Under the Mahdist regime the people of the Anglo- 
Egyptian Sudan decreased from over 8,500,000 to 
less than 2,000,000 under British rule they now 
number 5,500,000 : — thus they have more than 
doubled in twenty-five years. 

On the other hand, our authorities agree that 
(apart from the slave trade) in some parts of Africa 
the population has decreased since the Europeans 
came. The virtual extinction of the Bushmen and 
Hottentots of the Cape needs no comment. Nor 
is it necessary to dwell upon the decimation caused 
by war. The Germans were ruthless in putting 
down rebellion in Tanganyika and South-West 
Africa. According to their own figures, they 
reduced the Hereros from 65,000 to 21,600. 
Between 1904 and 1911 the Hottentots decreased 

^ This was Sir R, Wingate’s estimate, quoted by Earl Cromer 
who saw “ no reason to doubt its approximate accuracy " 
{Ancient and Modern Imperialism, p. 112, note). Nearly 
3,300,000 are said to have died of disease (largely smallpox), 
and 2,200,000 ware killed in war. 


140 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


from 20,000 to 10,000 ; and the Berg-Damaras 
from 30,000 to 13,000.^ How many Africans died 
in the Great War nobody knows but God. The 
industrial innovations cause a heavy death-rate : 
on the railway which the French are building in 
the Cameroons it is reported as 80 per 1,000 ; in 
the mines of South-West Africa it is no a thousand. 
And these figures do not include the men who 
creep home to die, away from doctors and statistical 
officers. 

M. All egret describes as “positively appalling” 
the depopulation of French West Africa as a result 
of porterage, the heavy labour on roads and railways, 
the exactions of the native troops and the spread 
of disease following on the opening up of the 
country.^ Madame Vassal speaks of the French 
Congo as “ depopulated.” This is no matter for 
wonder in view of some of her descriptions — the 
following, for example : 

“ The manioc for the natives of Brazzaville frequently 
comes from a distance of loo kilometres, and in this 
depopulated Congo it is the child-bearing women who 
undertake one of the most painful tasks. These groups 
of carriers generally arrive at midday, panting, exhausted, 
blinded by the glare of the sun and perspiration, which 
streams down their faces. It would be a pitiful sight if the 
carriers were men, but when they are women with babies 
it is harrowing.”® 

® G. L. Beer, African Questions at the Paris Peace Conference 
(1923), p. 14. 

* Dr. Elie All^gret in The International Review of Missions, 
Vol. XII, No. 46, p. 162 (April, 1923). 

® Gabrielle M. Vassal: Life in French Congo (1925), 
pp. 96, 97- 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 141 


Here is an incident, related without a shudder ; — 

" It was at Crampel, too, that Governors Gand and 
Toque lived. . . A huge hole is shown containing thousands 
of skeletons. On the slightest pretext or provocation 
natives were thrown into it alive, and the executions by 
blowing up the victims with dynamite have to this day 
left a most vivid impression on the minds of the populace.” ‘ 

One is not surprised to learn that, according to 
official figures, the population of French Equatorial 
Africa has diminished from 4,280,000 to 1,250,000 
since 1911.2 

The ruthless Leopoldian regime in the Congo, 
to which Belgians look back with disgust and 
shame, has been replaced by a humane system. 
But its effects are still felt. On altogether 
insufficient grounds the population was at one time 
estimated as high as forty millions. At present 
with greater knowledge it is reckoned as 7,152,779. 
It seems unquestionable that there has been a 
great decrease. Missionaries speak of “ this 
appalling and shaming spectre of depopulation ” 
as “ an indisputable fact.”® M. Wauters, the 
ex-minister of Labour, has no hesitation in ascribing 
this state of affairs to economic policy ; “ The 
danger comes to-day,” he says, “ no more from 
the rubber collectors, but from those impatient 
folk who would like to advance too rapidly in 
exploiting the depths of the earth or industrial 
cultures.”^ 

The Belgians asked themselves, “ Are we not on 

‘ Ibid, pp, 188, 189. 

* L'Afrique Francaise, January, 1926, p. 10. 

* Congo Mission News, jfuly, 1924 (Published in Belgian Congo) . 

* Joseph Wauters, Le Congo au travail (1924), p. 43. 


142 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the way to kill, slowly or quickly, according to 
circumstances, but surely, the goose that lays the 
golden eggs ? ” None too soon they appointed 
commissions of inquiry and sent out a band of 
doctors who in four years visited 3,272 villages, 
examined 534,323 Natives and administered 847,000 
injections to patients suspected of skepin^-sickness. 
Dr. Schwetz, the head of one commission, has 
published some of the results of his investigations 
in frank, courageous papers, written without 
passion, as scientific documents should be written. 
One chief cause of depopulation, he says in regard 
to his district, is epidemic disease, especially 
sleeping-sickness, and, he adds, “ everybody knows 
that sleeping-sickness has been spread through 
European penetration.” The principal cause is 
the coming of civilization. Porterage, permanent 
labour, sudden changes of diet, transplantation 
into other districts, all these things inherent in 
the employment of natives on a large scale, kill 
off the people. In the form that civilization is 
presented to the Congo natives, he says, they 
cannot stand it. He tells his fellow^-countrymen 
that they are impaled on the horns of a dilemma 
peu enviable ; they must choose betw'^een having a 
stagnant, populous colony, and a temporarily 
progressive colony with a rapidly disappearing 
population. 1 The Belgians are putting forth 
strenuous efforts to remedy this state of affairs. 

Turning now to British East Africa, we find a 
Commission reporting “ there is no conclusive 

1 J. Schwetz, ia Congo, March, 1923. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 143 


evidence that the population is increasing or 
declining in any part of East Africa.” But on a 
later page they say, “ Thei’e is only one territory 
which we visited, namely Uganda, where the 
native population is certainly increasing, and it is 
only for the year 1923 that this increase has been 
noted. In all other parts of East Africa there 
seems some ground for believing that deaths still 
exceed births.”^ According to figures quoted by 
Mr. F. C. Linfield in his supplementary memo- 
randum, the population of Northern Rhodesia 
increased by over 150,000 between 1911 and 1921. 
In Nyasaland there was a larger apparent growth, 
but it was due to immigration. Actually the 
local tribesmen are decreasing. The last Census 
Report states the causes of decline in the follo'wing 
order of importance : i. Venereal disease ; 2. long 
absence of males from home ; 3. the decline of the 
powers of hereditary chiefs ; 4. wilful restriction of 
size of families ; 5 . contact with European civilization. 
Tanganyika Territory reports a decrease owing 
to losses from famine and the war, and to the spread 
of venereal disease during the war. As for Kenya, 
“ The Chief Native Commissioner considers that, 
when every allowance has been made for defects 
in the estimates, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion 
that the population has lately shown a tendency 
to decline. ”2 

The East Africa Commission was definitely of 
opinion that employment of male adults away 

Report of the East Africa Commission, 1925, pp. 46, 54. 

’ Mr. Linfield’s memo. E. A. C. Report, p. 185. 


144 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


from their homes in the reserves had no serious 
effect on the birth-rate. In the absence of statistics 
it is impossible to controvert this — or to substantiate 
it. The opinions we have quoted regarding other 
African territories testify that the new industrial 
system is a vera causa of a declining population. 
In Great Britain during the war we had experience 
of what the absence of a large part of the adult 
males means in domestic disturbances and a 
diminished birth-rate. In Africa the same effects 
are produced when large numbers of men are 
taken from home to work for a long period. More- 
over, the social upheaval has, without question, 
produced among many Africans a listlessness, a 
lack of will to live, which with fatigue and malnu- 
trition renders them an easy prey to disease. 


II. 

Leaving aside all considerations of sentiment for 
the moment, it is obvious that a declining or 
stationary population is a very serious drawback 
to the economic prospects of some African territories^ 
Almost everywhere the complaint heard from 
European miners and planters is that labour is 

1 The East African Commission reported : ‘‘ We are convinced 
that the Governments now fully realize that the future of the 
country is dependent upon the care of the native population, 
the increase in its effective birth-rate, and, above all, the 
prevention and cure of disease. We found that every section of 
the community in East Africa is unanimous in demanding an 
increase in the provision made for medical services. Irrespective 
of motive the demand is sound and it must be satisfied.” — 
Report, 1925, p. 53. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 145 


scarce. If that is so to-day when the industries 
are still in their infancy, what is the outlook for 
them in the future ? The potential cotton area 
of East Africa, for example — how is it to be 
cultivated ? The Negro population of the U.S.A. 
cotton states is over 7,000,000, “ more or less 
occupied in cotton-growing,”^ the area worked 
in 1923-4 being 38,700,000 acres. On the same 
proportion the 90,000,000 acres in East Africa, 
said to be suitable for cotton, ^ would require 
18,000,000 people. Where are these to be found in 
addition to all workers on railways, etc. ? Mr. 
Linfield puts the matter in a common-sense way : 
“It is futile to press forward schemes, whether 
of European settlement, or of large scale native 
production, if the natives, who in either case must 
supply the labour, simply are not there.” 

Some people say : “ Press on with your schemes 
of development ; even though the present generation 
suffers, the future will reap the advantage ! ” This 
sounds like a cynical disregard for the well-being 
of posterity. 

Happily the actual state of affairs is not irremedi- 
able. As South Africa and large parts of West 
Africa prove, the Africans are capable of increasing 
prodigiously under propitious circumstances. The 
causes of decline, if they have been correctly 
diagnosed, can be removed. Many of the diseases 
can be eradicated to a large extent, or entirely, 
if the resources of modem science are applied on 

^ EncyclopcBdia Bntannica, nth Edition, Vol. 7, p. 259. 

^ Seejinte, p. 116. 

L 


146 


THE GOLDEN STOOL; 


a large scale and with determination. What is 
being done in Uganda can be done elsewhere. 
The decline in population had set in before 
Europeans arrived — Sir Harry Johnston has said 
that Christianity saved the Baganda from extinction. 
Sleeping-sickness, introduced through European 
invasion and the cause of 200,000 deaths, has been 
successfully dealt with by missionary and Govern- 
ment doctors : in the kingdom of Buganda, 8,003 
persons died of the disease in 1905; in 1915, three ; 
and since 1917, none,^ Now they are combating 
the even greater scourge of venereal disease — the 
outstanding hygienic problem of Uganda. ^ That 
success is attending their efforts is shown by the fact 
that the population is now beginning to increase.^ 
More doctors, hospitals, maternity centres and 
dispensaries ; instruction in hygiene and mother- 
craft ; training of African medical assistants and 
doctors ; a vigorous campaign against the tsetse : 
these are some of the things most needed in tropical 
Africa to-day and they must be provided if the 
population is to be saved from decay and enabled 
to increase. In so far as deaths are caused by 
customs founded upon African religious belief, the 
extension of Christian missions vdll avail. 

Moreover, some review of economic policy is 

1 Dr. J. Howard Cook in Medical Practice in Africa and 
the East (1923), p. 37. 

* Dr. A. R. Cook found that 84 per cent, of the population 
of Bunyoro gave a history of venereal infection. 

® The ofdcial Medical Report for 1923 says : " It is believed 
the tide has now definitely set in the direction of a steady 
increase in population.” 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 147 


called for. Careful investigation must be made, 
and statistics must be compiled, as to the effects 
of European industrialism in any area, and economic 
development must there be regulated in accordance 
with the facts thus obtained. 

To their credit be it said, the Belgians have 
taken the lead in this matter. The report of a 
very influential Commission, appointed in 1924, 
goes to the heart of the question by asking what 
proportion of workers can be taken away without 
injuring a native community and lowering the 
birth-rate. They reply that five per cent, of the 
men may be recruited, if these are to work a long 
distance from home for a lengthy period ; ten per 
cent, if they work within two days’ journey; fifteen 
per cent, if they work for Europeans without 
ceasing to live their family life. By education and 
other means the safe proportion might be increased 
to 25 per cent., but this must be regarded as the 
absolute maximum. There is no need to repeat the 
other findings of the Commission which emphasize 
the importance of conserving the population and of 
proportioning the economic development of the 
country strictly to the number of workmen available 
within such limits. 

The principles they lay down should be applied 
in all territories where the demand for labour is 
heard. Whether the ratios they decided upon for 
the Congo are applicable to Kenya and elsewhere 
is a matter for investigation. It is difficult to avoid 


1 The Report is published in L’Essor Colonial et Maritime, 
April II, 18, 25, May 2 and 9, 1925. 


L ? 


148 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the temptation of discussing the problem, as it 
occurs in the other colonies, in the light of these 
findings, but the statistics available are so scanty 
and where they exist are so confused that discussion 
would be unprofitable. The subject cannot be 
left, however, without pointing out the startling 
difference between the Belgian maximum figure of 
25 per cent, and the 50 per cent, contemplated by 
the East Africa Commission as the limit beyond 
which “ it is neither desirable nor to be expected ” 
that the men should be absent from home. This 
Commission saw that, if economic success is to be 
assured in East Africa, two things are absolutely 
necessary, (i) an increased native population, and 
(2) a greater economy in the use of labour. And 
Viscount Cobham, Chairman of East African 
Estates, Ltd., says very sensibly, “ Planters and 
land companies would be ill-advised to embark 
upon any considerable development requiring a 
large supply of Native labour.” ^ 


III. 

“ The native question is the land question.” 
All our authorities are agreed upon this point. 
Here the irritation caused by the contact of cultures 
reaches its culmination. The views of modern 
Europeans have diverged so considerably from the 
views of Africans as to proprietorship in land that 
mutual understanding becomes extremely difficult. 

1 East Africa, Wembley Souvenir number, July 2, 1925. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 14 $ 

Europeans disregard views so different from their 
own and generally fail to appreciate the intense 
attachment of the Africans to the soil. There is 
only too much truth in the dictum : Wdiite men 

at one time robbed Africa of Africans, now they 
rob the Africans of Africa. No other single trans- 
action has resulted in so much injustice on the part 
of Europeans and in so much resentment on the 
part of Africans. 

According to high legal authority, there is no 
such thing as absolute ownership in the soil of 
England for any subject of the King. The ultimate 
landowner is the sovereign acting on behalf of the 
State, that is to say, the whole body of the people. 
W'Tiat in England is a legal theory is actual practice 
in Africa, except where foreigners have introduced 
new conceptions. The African admits no individual 
ownership in the soil. All land within the tribal 
boundary, whether cultivated ground, pasturage, 
waste ground or forest, belongs to the community 
as a whole, and not to the present occupiers only 
but to the community in perpetuity. The individual 
acquires certain rights by reason of his being a 
member of the community, but no right of 
proprietorship. Where the chief is said to be the 
owner, he is nothing more than a representative 
and trustee of the tribe. It follows that no man, 
not even the chief, can alienate the land. Purchase 
and selling of land are inconceivable to an African. 

Here and there may be found some modification 
of this theory and practice ; for example, in Uganda 
where a feudal system was introduced by invaders 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


I50 

of Galla origin. 1 On the West Coast and in South 
Africa ideas of individual ownership have come in 
with the Europeans. But all who have studied 
the question would I believe accept as correct the 
exposition I have given of the purely African 
system. 

When Europeans entered Africa they naturally 
presumed that land could be bought and sold as 
in their own countries. They struck bargains with 
the native chiefs, bargains which they interpreted 
in one way and the chiefs in another, since each 
started from his own preconception and they knew 
neither the language nor the views of each other. 
The chief granted (or thought he was granting) 
permission to occupy a parcel of ground ; the white 
man was convinced that he was purchasing the 
ground in the sense that he would purchase freehold 
land at home. Naturally troubles followed. The 
white man, by reason of superior force, got his own 
way, and a sense of injustice was left to rankle in 
the minds of the people. ^ In this way Europeans 
have acquired immense areas for the proverbial 
old song — for hats and rum and pots and knives. 
The land around the Bay of Natal was “ purchased ” 
by the British for goods of the nominal value of 
;£i,65o ; actually the goods were worth £50. But 
it was no real sale ; for nobody had a right to sell 
the land. 

^ John Roscoe, The Baganda (1911), p. 268; Twenty-five 
years in East Africa (1921), p. 83. 

* An illuminating instance of what has happened many times 
is given by Esu Biyi in his article on Temne Land Tenure 
[Journal of the African Society, July, 1913. No. XLVIII, 
Vol. XII, p. 407, sqq.) 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND-, 151 


This land question must be studied also from 
the standpoint of the broad interest of humanity. 
“ The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” 
and He has granted it to men : the whole of the 
earth belongs to the whole of mankind, for the use 
of all, and it is man’s duty to make the most of his 
patrimony. From this point of view, any 
individual, or any community, that allows the land 
to lie undeveloped betrays the common good. 
Mr. George Edwards (National Union of Agricultural 
Workers) declared at the Trades Union Congress of 
1925 : “ I would make it a criminal offence for a 
man to own land and refuse to cultivate it.”i If 
it is a crime against humanity for a British land- 
owner to “ refuse ” to cultivate his estate, is it a 
virtue for Africans to “ refuse ” to cultivate the 
vast areas which they hold ? East African settlers 
have been quick to draw the parallel.^ On the 
African’s own collectivistic principles, if a man 
does not use his share of the tribal land it may be 
allotted to another tribesman; and this rule must 
surely be extended to any community, white or 
black. It was Carlyle’s view that the true owner 

'‘■The Daily Herald, September 14, 1925. It is interesting 
to note this in connection with the anti-imperialistic resolution 
adopted the same day. See p. 67. 

® See e.g., “ Our Kenya Letter ” in East Africa, December 31, 
1925, and its comments on the Chief Native Commissioner's 
statement that the settlers covet the land of the Lumbwa 
tribe. “ They [the Natives] graze their goats and cattle over 
one of the richest and best watered areas in East Africa which, 
put to its best uses, is capable of producing enormous revenues 
from tea, coffee or other crops and dairying, and of which they 
have no knowledge whatever.” The correspondent calls it 
" wasted land," 


152 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


is he that can the best educe from the soil the 
beneficent gifts with which the Maker endued it. 

Where does this argument lead us ? Does it 
warrant Europeans in arrogating to themselves a 
mandate from humanity to assume possession of the 
uncultivated areas of Africa ? The facts already 
given as to the paucity of the population prove that 
much of the continent is not fully occupied, and 
the right of Europeans, or of other peoples, to 
occupy and cultivate the areas that are not occupied 
by aborigines cannot be contested. But an intoler- 
able injustice is done when, supported by such 
arguments, Europeans oust the Natives, by force 
or by legal fictions, from land which the Natives 
occupy — even though the native standard of 
occupation is not higher than that of Europeans 
who hold huge estates of 100,000 acres and more. 

Has such injustice been committed ? 

This question might be answered by reference to 
South Africa, where the unwise and unjust handling 
of the land problem in the past is causing an acute 
problem to-day The Natives have been compelled 
to live on about one-fifth of the land which they 
held when they were much less numerous ; the 
existing native reserves are inadequate and some- 
times dangerously congested ; while some of the 
European areas are becoming depopulated owing 
to the monopolization of land by big landowners, 
often for purely speculative purposes. ^ South African 

1 See the pamphlet by Professor W. M. Macmillan (of the 
Witwatersrand University) : The Land, the Native and Unemploy- 
ment {1924). In the Transvaal, 543,485 Europeans hold 110,450 
square miles ; 1,544,151 non-Europeans hold 3,837 square miles. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 153 

experience has much to teach East Africa in regard 
to land. 

To East Africa we now turn, and the position 
will be appreciated better if comparison is made 
with Nigeria and other West African territories. 

In 1861, the British Government, reluctantly and 
solely with a view to suppressing the slave trade, 
took possession of Lagos in virtue of a treaty with 
the Chief. In subsequent years a Protectorate 
was extended over various Native States near 
the coast, and in 1886 a charter was granted to a 
Company which induced many inland chiefs to 
place their territories under British protection. 
From the treaties published in Hertslet^ it is quite 
clear that no general rights over the land were 
conveyed by the Natives to the Company, which 
was given powers of administration over foreigners 
and the right to work mines. It was in this way 
that Southern Nigeria came into the Empire, for 
when the Company’s charter was revoked in 1899 
the British Government assumed direct adminis- 
tration. A large part of Northern Nigeria was 
conquered by the British, who assumed the rights 
of property held by the Fulani chiefs and claimed 
the right to dispose of unoccupied lands. The 
British Administration held the land as a trustee 
for the people, with due respect to private and 
communal rights. No interference was made with 
native occupation or title, but no alienation of the 
land to foreigners w'as permitted. No freehold 

* Sir E. Hertslet, The Map of Africa by Treaty (3rd Edition, 
1909), Vol. I, pp. 89 seqq. 


154 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


grants are made in Nigeria. “ The grant of large 
blocks of land to ‘ concessionaires,’ unless unin- 
habited, is,” Sir F. Lugard declares, “ altogether 
opposed to the principle of trusteeship.”^ The 
system which has prevailed to a large extent in 
French and Belgian territory, is not allowed in 
British West Africa. 

“ The Government fully recognizes," said Sir Hugh 
Clifford, then Governor of Nigeria, to the Legislative 
Council in 1925, " that the land in the Southern Provinces 
is the inalienable communal property of the various Native 
communities whose rights to it are based upon effective 
occupation or upon immemorial usage To dis- 

possess any such tribe of any extensive area, no matter 
what the admirable uses to which the land thus taken 
from them might be put, would therefore be an act of the 
greatest imprudence ; and the final result of any such 
action would probably be the establishment of European- 
owned estates among African communities which were 
outgrowing the areas available to them. It is my very 
earnest hope that the land policy of the Government which, 
in my judgment, is the corner-stone upon which the entire 
edifice of Native prosperity and well-being in this country 
depends, will never be suffered to be altered or abandoned, 
no matter how strongly it may be urged that such action 
is demanded in the name of economic expediency.”* 

Referring in another speech to Lord Leverhulme’s 
grievance that white men are not allowed to purchase 
land in Nigeria, Sir Hugh Clifford said ; 

" We have a sacred trust to discharge and if we did 
what Lord Leverhulme advocates, I say we should be 

^ Op. cit., p. 298. Sir F. Lugard discusses with his usual 
lucidity and fulness, the question of Land Tenure and Transfer 
in Chapters XIV and XV. 

* West Africa, April ii, 1925. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 155 

betraying that trust ; and on the day the Englishman 
forgets his duty to the Native and tries to exploit him for 
his own advantage, that day Nigeria goes down the hill 
to her ruin. God forbid that any such day should ever 
dawn.”^ 

This is perfectly plain. In Nigeria the Govern- 
ment disregards any pleas of economic expediency 
that tend to weaken the principle of trusteeship 
by removing the African from his land. 

The British dependency now known as Kenya 
was acquired, not by conquest, but, like much of 
Nigeria, by virtue of treaties. First of all, the 
Sultan of Zanzibar conceded to Sir W. Mackinnon 
and other “ prominent capitalists ” the adminis- 
tration of his territories on the African mainland, 
and these gentlemen formed the Imperial East Africa 
Company which received a royal charter in 1888. 
This coastal region, in part, forms the Kenya 
Protectorate, which is separate from Kenya Colony. 
Between 1887 and 1891 the Company concluded a 
great many treaties® with the native chiefs in the 
interior, who had no right to surrender their tribes’ 
rights in the land and did not in fact surrender 
them, but ceded all sovereign rights over their 
territories, peoples and subjects. The Company 
having surrendered its charter, the country lying 
between the coast and Uganda became a British 
Protectorate in 1895. Our right to govern the 
country rests upon the cessions previously made ; 
so far as I am aware, no further agreements were 

‘ West Africa, July ii, 1925. 

• Details in Hertslet, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 297, seqq. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


156 

made with the Natives, ^ who in virtue of those 
treaties should to-day be enjoying possession of the 
lands as the Nigerians enjoy theirs. 

When the railway to Uganda was being built 
it was discovered that much of the land through 
which it passed was very rich and suitable for 
European settlement, — “ a white man’s country.” 
“ This being so, I think it is mere hypocrisy,” 
said the Commissioner, “ not to admit that white 
interests must be paramount and that the main 
object of our policy and legislation should be to 
found a white colony. From 1902 onwards the 
British authorities made grants of the land, the first 
being of 500 square miles, to European syndicates 
and individuals. 

How stands the matter to-day ? I quote from 
the Report of the East Africa Commission : 

“ At every meeting we had with the natives of Kenya 
Colony there was evidence of a feeling of insecurity as 
regards the tenure of their lands. The legal position 
appears to be that no individual native and no native 
tribe has any right to land in the colony which can be 
recognized by the Courts.” 

They quote a decision of the Kenya High Court 
in a land case in 1921, to the effect that all native 
rights had disappeared and that the Natives had 
become tenants at will of the Crown. 

' A treaty was made with the Masai in 1904 recognizing their 
right in part of the land they had occupied, and another in 1911. 
How these agreements were kept has been told by Dr. Norm.^n 
Leys, Kenya, Chapter IV. 

* Sir C. Eliot, The East African Protectorate (1905). PP- i°5. 
310. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. 157 


" This judgment,” the Commission go on to say, 
" is now widely known to Africans in Kenya, and it has 
become clear to them that, without their being previously 
informed, or consulted, their rights in their tribal land 
whether communal or individual, have ‘ disappeared ’ in 
law and have been superseded by the rights of the Crown.” 

In the House of Lords, Lord Buckmaster (formerly 
the Lord Chancellor) thus commented upon this 
situation ; “ How the Crown asserted and obtained 
the rights of ownership over the whole of the soil 
is due to a series of legal fictions which is not always 
easy to follow.”^ On the same occasion the Earl 
of Balfour said : “ Legally I have no doubt that 
the Crown is the technical owner of these lands, 
but . . . their [the Natives’] rights, their moral 
rights, have always been recognized.” How they 
have been recognized has been laid before the British 
public by Dr. Norman Leys in his thought -provoking 
book, Kenya. He has been plentifully abused, 
but his statements about the allotment of land 
have never been controverted. He tells that some 
2,000 square miles in freehold and some 5,500 
square miles in leasehold have been granted to 
Europeans ; to Indians 22 square miles, either 
freehold or leasehold; to Africans no land at all.^ 
Certain lands have been proclaimed as “ reserves,” 
i.e., as native areas, but the Government is free to 
dispose of them without notice and without com- 
pensation to the occupiers. Dr. Leys is confident 

^ Parliamentary Debates, House of Lords, Vol. 61, No. 44 
(May 20, 1925), p. 402. 

’ Kenya, p. 79. 


158 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


that 5,000 square miles would be an over-estimate 
of the arable land in these “ reserves.” “ So we get 
the extraordinary contrast of 10,000 square miles 
alienated to Europeans and populated by 1893 
occupied Europeans, with 5,000 square miles, 
reserved, somewhat precariously, to nearly 2,000,000 
Africans. And this, be it remembered, in a country 
never conqvxered, as most of India was conquered, 
but which we occupied with the professed object 
of protecting its inhabitants.”^ And, we may add, 
in a country of which His Majesty’s Government 
declared they regard themselves as exercising a trust 
on behalf of the African population. ^ 

It is not contended that Europeans should never 
have been invited to form a settlement in Kenya : 
there was room for them. But it certainly is not 
right that individuals and Companies should have 
been allowed to acquire practically for nothing 
huge areas for speculative purposes. Nor is it 
right that the Natives should have been ousted 
from much of the land they were occupying. The 
most liberal estimate I have seen of the Native 
Reserves is 30,400,000 acres (47,500 sq. miles). 

1 Kenya, p. 144. 

’ Dr. Leys, it will be noticed, gives two sets of figures for the 
alienated lands, 7,500 and 10,000 square miles. The Kenya 
Agricultural Report for 1924 puts the land, allotted and avail- 
able for Europeans, at 7,000,000 acres (10,937 square miles) 
and the number of European occupiers in June, 1924 at 1,715. 
A map prepared by the Statistical Officer of the Kenya Agri- 
cultural Department shows 7,589,760 acres (11,859 square miles) 
as " surveyed into farms.” This map indicates Native Reserves 
as 30,400,000 acres (47,500 square mile.s). The East African 
Commission states these to be 46,837 square miles. The figures, 
of course, vary from time to time. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND, 159 


This includes stretches of arid soil that no European 
would accept as a gift, and, according to Dr. Leys, 
only one-ninth of the total area is arable. A Land 
Commission in Rhodesia reserved 24 acres for each 
man, woman and child for exclusive and permanent 
native occupation. ^ On this basis, the arable and 
pastoral land needed by the Natives of Kenya 
would be about 48,000,000 acres (75,000 square 
miles). 

Justice and the fulfilment of our duty as Trustees 
demand that sufficient land,^ allowing for some 
growth of the population, should be allotted to 
the Natives, and that their title to it should be 
absolutely secured, so that no more of it should 
be alienable, except with the assent of the Natives 
and of the Imperial Government. The East Africa 
Commission proposed the setting up of a Trust 
Board, in which all native lands should be vested, 
and upon which representatives of the Natives 
should be appointed. By the time this book is 
published, the Government will, it is to be hoped, 
have given effect to this recommendation. 

Whether the figures here given are strictly 


1 The Dual Mandate, p. 328. 

* It is not in Kenya only that large areas have been alienated 
to Europeans. In Northern Rhodesia the North Charterland 
Company holds 6,400,000 acres, and various individuals and 
syndicates nearly 3,000,000 acres more. The British South 
Africa Co. (which no longer has administrative powers) owns 
over 10,000,000 acres — 2,758,000 of which are in Northern 
Rhodesia — valued at about ;^5, 000,000 in the Company’s 
Balance Sheet. Outside Barotseland, no land in Northern 
Rhodesia has as yet been definitely reserved for Natives, but 
measures to this end are in progress. In Tanganyika Territory 
Europeans and Indians hold 1,769,000 acres. 


i6o THE GOLDEN STOOL. 

accurate or not — and it is a very difficult matter 
to determine — the main differences between what 
is called “ Westcoastism” and “Kenyaism” are not 
in dispute. The difference is noted and welcomed 
by some colonists in Kenya who look upon 
West Africa as “a paradise of the bureaucrat ” 
and say, “ Kenya is the antithesis of West Africa. 
We want it so and are proud of the contrast.”^ 
For justification of the divergent policies it is not 
sufficient to point to the fact that West Africa is 
deadly for Europeans while much of East Africa 
is “ a white man’s country ” ; nor to the fact that 
the West African dependencies have an average 
density of population six times greater than that 
of the East African dependencies.^ The two 
systems, “ Westcoastism ” and “ Kenyaism ” 
represent two ideals which are in conflict throughout 
Africa. This fact may be obscured because the 
former obtains, not only on the West Coast but in 
parts of East Africa also : the Colonial Office has 
adopted in Kenya the dual policy of promoting 
development of the Natives and of encouraging 
European settlement. But the two ideals persist. 
According to one system, the aim is to build up 
an African community, economically independent, 
holding and cultivating its own land, and advancing 
in a civilization, which while absorbing the best of 
the European remains African, under the active 

1 " Our own correspondent, Kenya,” East Africa, August 6, 

1925- 

2 The Dual Mandate, p. 332. The table given by Sir F. 
Lugard on p. 45 shows ; Western Group, 44.6 persons to the 
square mile ; Eastern Group, 7.5. 


QUESTIONS OF POPULATION AND LAND. i6i 


encouragement and advice of a few sympathetic 
Europeans ; while according to the other system, 
the aim is to establish an aristocratic, land-owning 
European class which looks to the Africans to 
supply labour and whose intention is, while 
improving the African as a worker, to keep him in 
a permanent position of inferiority. The professed 
belief of these settlers is that the African advances, 
and can only advance, in contact with European 
enterprise. The future will determine which system 
is the more in accordance with the highest interests 
of humanity at large. For the present, it may be 
noted that in the former case, the Natives are 
loyal, industrious, progressive, on the increase, and 
are producing enormous crops (as of cocoa and 
cotton) ; while in the latter case, they are restless 
and dissatisfied, and (in some countries) tending 
to decrease in numbers. 




CHAPTER VII. 


Wherein the Questions are asked, How are 
THE Africans Governed ? How should 
they be Governed ? 

I. 

O N returning to Africa in 1898, I spent the 
greater part of the first twelve months as 
the guest and pupil of missionaries of the 
Paris Evangelical Society in Basutoland — the 
Switzerland of South Africa. The greatest figure 
in the history of that little country — it is about 
half as large again as Wales — is that of Moshesh, 
the Chief who, out of the chaos that reigned in 
South Africa subsequent to the rise of the Zulu 
power under Chaka, gathered around him numerous 
Bantu clans and welded them into a nation. It was 
he who in 1833 invited the French missionaries 
to settle in his country. With remarkable prescience 
he foresaw that the tide of European civilization 
which at that time was rising in South Africa 
would ultimately beat around his frontiers, and 
he expected, not vainly, that the presence of the 
missionaries would not only elevate his people 
but would help them to retain possession of their 
land. Moreover, he appealed again and again to 


HOW . 4 RE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 163 


be taken under British protection. When at last 
in 1868 his prayer was granted, this was only just 
in time to save the remainder of his territory from 
the Boers, who had already taken possession of a 
large part of it. 

In 1862 Moshesh used what Sir Godfrey Lagden 
rightly calls “remarkable words in his appeal 
to the British authorities : 

“ I will be under the Queen as her subject, and my 
people will be her subjects but under me. . . I wish to 
govern my own people by native law, by our own laws ; 
but if the Queen wish after this to introduce other laws 
into my country, I would be willing ; but I should wish 
such laws to be submitted to the Council of the Basuto ; 
and when they are accepted by my Council, I will send to 
the Queen and inform her that they have become law.” 

Here in 1862 we find an African chief laying 
down the principles of Indirect Rule which to-day 
are so widely adopted in the administration of 
African territories. When in 1884, after a somewhat 
stormy interval of annexation to Cape Colony 
(1871-1884), Basutoland came under the Imperial 
Government, these were the lines upon which it 
was governed, and the system has continued to 
the present day. 

The British power is represented by a Resident 
Commissioner, with a staff of British magistrates 
and other officials, and he is responsible to the 
High Commissioner of South Africa, who alone 
possesses legislative authority. The customary 
Native law is administered in the courts. The 

1 Sir Godfrey Lagden, The Basutos (1909), Vol. I, pp. 

314. 315- 


M 2 


164 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Chiefs settle cases between Natives which are 
brought before them (except cases of man- 
slaughter and other grave crimes), while, as 
a protection against possible oppression, right is 
given to appeal to the British magistrates. 

Native institutions have in this way been 
recognized and fostered. The most remarkable of 
these is the Pitso, or National Assembly, which 
reminded Lord Bryce of the Agora, the assembly 
of freemen described in the Homeric poems, and 
the primary assemblies of the early peoples of 
Europe. 1 At this annual gathering all Basuto 
men enjoyed the rights of attendance and free 
utterance. The way in which not only the principal 
chiefs, but commoners expressed themselves was 
most impressive. Their eloquence, frankness, and 
dignity would be creditable at Westminster. Both 
the Chiefs and the British Government, whose 
officials were present at the Pitso I attended, were 
freely criticized. It is an admirable feature of the 
customary law of the Basuto that no man may 
suffer in consequence of anything he says in the 
Assembly. 

In 1903 a Council, or House of Representatives, 
was established, the members, about a hundred in 
number, being in part selected by the chiefs and 
in part nominated by the British Government. 
This Council discusses the expenditure of money 
raised by taxation, ventilates opinions and 
grievances, and considers legislative proposals which 

* James (Lord) Bryce, Impressions of South Africa (1899), 
p. 424. 


HOJV ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 165 


with the High Commissioner’s sanction become 
laws. In this way, the Basuto are being helped 
to govern themselves. It is a matter of regret, 
which many Basuto share, that the people no 
longer have the opportunity of expressing them- 
selves at an annual Pitso. This Assembly is now 
only summoned on very special occasions, such as 
when the Prince of Wales visited Basutoland. 

It is alleged against the African tribal system 
that it spells stagnation, since the customary law 
remains unaltered and unalterable from generation 
to generation. The history of the Basuto proves 
that this is not necessarily so, for, even prior to 
the establishment of the Protectorate, the Para- 
mount Chief, in consultation and by general agree- 
ment with his people, had introduced many changes, 
Moshesh, for example, abolished the smelling-out of 
witches. He also prohibited the importation of 
alcoholic liquors. British rule involves the abolition 
of customs that are repugnant to civilized minds. 
But there is a vast difference between changing 
traditional customs by the arbitrary decree of the 
foreigner, and bringing about changes through 
native channels. The system in Basutoland makes 
it possible to introduce reforms gradually, in 
accord with the growing enlightenment of the people. 

No land troubles exist in Basutoland such as 
those which emerge elsev^here when Whites and 
Blacks come into contact. The rights of the 
Basuto in the soil have been frankly recognized 
and enforced. Traders are allowed to carry on 
their business, but they cannot own a particle of 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


1 66 

land, and there are no European farmers. The 
French mission occupies its sites on the same 
conditions as Natives occupy theirs — no freehold 
rights are claimed. 

The Basuto enjoy considerable material prosperity, 
though the dryness of the soil, which in an increasing 
degree afflicts South Africa generally, affects them 
also. No extensive area of South Africa has been 
more effectively cultivated than the western plain 
of Basutoland. Wheat and other cereals, wool, 
hides and skins and live stock are exported to the 
value of nearly a million pounds a year. “ No 
white population,” says Sir Godfrey Lagden, 
“would produce as much in the space available.” ^ 
The country pays its own way and has a considerable 
balance in the bank. The revenue, derived from 
taxation, customs, fees, etc., is spent for the benefit 
of the people. Good roads, hospitals, dispensaries, 
a leper settlement, have been built. Wealth also 
comes into the country through the earnings of 
men who leave home for a period to work on the 
mines and farms : in 1924, 88,627 passes were 
given to such men leaving the territory. 

In Basutoland, the British Government and the 
Christian Church, represented by French, Anglican 
and Roman Catholic missions, have co-operated in 
raising the standard of life. Sir H. Sloley, formerly 
the Resident Commissioner, said in 1896, “ If one 
influence more than another has helped the Basuto 
it is the missionary influence which began seventy- 
five years ago. The results achieved are such as to 

1 op. cit.. Vol. II. p. 642. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 167 


encourage missionaries and laymen alike to do their 
plain duty and to trust the future of the native 
people.” Over 40,000 pupils are enrolled in the 
elementary schools, all conducted by the Missions, 
and 600 pupils in normal and industrial institutions. 
Grants amounting to ;^35,ooo a year are voted by 
the Council for the support of these schools, besides 
a large sum for agricultural training. 

It is not pretended that everything is ideal in 
this highly favoured land. Reference will be made 
presently to some of the criticisms that may fairly 
be urged against the system. But here, it can be 
claimed, is an object lesson in the art of governing 
an African people. Basutoland (in Sir Godfrey 
Lagden’s words)’- “ furnishes the unique opportunity 
for the experiment, not so easily possible in any 
other country, of testing the intellectual altitude 
to which these native people as a mass can rise on 
their own lines under paternal government and 
guidance, without being compelled by the presence 
of a European population to adopt a spurious 
form of civilization.” Under this system, an 
African tribe is given the opportunity of developing 
sanely and securely along the lines of its own ethos, 
while gradually absorbing the best elements of our 
European civilization. On the whole, the result is 
encouraging. One criterion of African happiness is 
increase in population. In 1875 Basutoland 
contained 127,707 people ; in 1924, 540,000. That 
is to say, in fifty years the population has grown 
more than fourfold. 

^ In The Native Races of the Empire (1925), p. 48. 


i68 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


II. 

When Europeans took possession of African 
territories the problem arose as to the best method 
of governing the people. Various methods have 
been tried but they may be reduced in principle 
to two, which have been described in the following 
terms by Mr. Amery, the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies.^ The first method begins by destroying 
the institutions, traditions and habits of the people 
and then superimposes upon the ruins whatever 
the governing power considers to be a better 
administrative system. The other method, while 
checking the worst abuses, tries to graft our higher 
civilization on the soundly-rooted native stock, 
bringing out the best of what is in the native 
tradition and moulding it into a form consonant 
with modern ideas and higher standards, and yet 
all the time enlisting on our side the real force of 
the spirit of the people. 

The latter of these two methods, commonly 
known as Indirect Rule,^ is the method adopted in 
Basutoland. It is also applied in Uganda, Nigeria 
(partly at least) and other British territories. 

An extreme example of the other method. 
Direct Rule, is afforded by the system established 
by the Germans in their East and West African 
territories. In the Cameroons they deliberately 
broke down, as far as possible, all the native 

^ speech at the Nigerian Dinner Club, December 17, 1924. 

® The two methods have been ably discussed by Mr. C. L, 
Temple (late Lieut. -Governor, Northern Provinces, Nigeria) 
in his Native Races and their Rulers (1918). He unhesitatingly 
supports Indirect Rule. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 169 


machinery of government. They nullified the 
powers of the Chiefs and set up European officials, 
who were ignorant of the local languages, unversed 
in native law and custom, and all too few in numbers 
to cope with the work of governing, though sufficient 
and powerful enough to break down the native 
system and to dishearten the true leaders of the 
people. Since the British took over part of the 
German colonies, under a Mandate of the League 
of Nations, they have made strenuous and largely 
successful endeavours to resuscitate the indigenous 
form of government. The British officials now act 
as advisers of the native authorities, educating and 
controlling them, keeping their fingers on the 
pulses of native life, and guiding the people, along 
their own channels, into the paths of progress.^ 

The degree of success attainable by Indirect Rule 
and the extent to which it can be applied depend 
largely upon the character of the pre-existing 
native government. Where, as in Basutoland, 
Barotseland, Northern Nigeria, Uganda, the system 
was highly organized under strong Chiefs, the 
foundation was already laid, but in other districts 
where small headmen ruled village communities and 
paid no allegiance to a superior Chief, the establish- 
ment of Indirect Rule is a much more difficult 
task. In this case it is the aim of the British 
authorities to draw scattered units together under 
one head, or to form Native Councils to which a 
large measure of self-government may be entrusted. 

Report on the British sphere of the Cameroons, 1922, 
pp. 13 sqq. 


170 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


These Native Councils were first established 
by Mr. Cecil Rhodes in the South African district 
of Glen Grey in 1894 and were set up subsequently 
in the Transkei. In 1924 the Native Authority 
Amendment Ordinance bestowed a considerable 
measure of local self-government upon the already 
existing indigenous Councils in Kenya Colony 
where the chiefs ruled, not as autocrats but with the 
advice of the elders. The native system has proved 
capable of development. In Kenya the elective 
principle has been introduced with the object of 
giving a voice in tribal affairs to the more educated 
and progressive tribesmen. “ In one district,” says 
Mr. Denham, the acting-go vernor, ^ “the candidates 
were all lined up in a row, each candidate being 
given a number : there were over 2,000 Natives 
present, each of whom was given in turn a wand 
with which he tapped on the shoulder the candidates 
for whom he wished to vote, up to the number for 
which there were vacancies. District Commissioners 
and Assistant District Commissioners then recorded 
the votes against the number of -each candidate.” 
The management of communal matters such as 
land, forests and veterinary services are entrusted 
to these councils, as well as health, education, 
agriculture, trade and labour recruitment. They 
are empowered to levy a rate, the proceeds of which 
are devoted to these objects. In time it is hoped 
to bring together representatives of the separate 

1 Cmd 2573, 1926: Report by Mr. Denham on his tours in 
native reserves. Report on Kenya for 1924, Colonial Reports, 
No. 1282. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 171 


councils and thus form a kind of native Parliament. 
This is an excellent system for training the 

people. 

The system of Indirect Rule has been adversely 
criticized by competent observers. Mr. F. W. H. 

Migeod, an official of long experience in West 

Africa, has frankly expressed his preference for 
the direct and autocratic government of the Germans 
in the Cameroons. He believes that it makes for 
progress, while Indirect Rule spells stagnancy. 
Speaking of Northern Nigeria, he says : “ Until 
indirect administration is replaced by direct British 
administration, as in the southern provinces of 
Nigeria, it will never be possible to eradicate 

slavery.”^ “Every native,” he declares, “prefers 
to be under a British officer instead of under a 
native chief.” And again : “ The trouble with 
indirect rule is that it can only work as it were in 
a glass case. When subjected to the jolts and 
jars of economic progress it shows signs of weak- 
ness.” ^ Captain J. F. J. Fitzpatrick, an official 
of seventeen years’ experience, has trenchantly 
criticized Indirect Rule in Northern Nigeria, which 
he roundly describes as “Nigeria’s Curse,” expensive, 
inefficient, and oppressive.® The system as it 
exists in Basutoland has also its critics. The 
Chiefs are said to withhold justice and to be open 
to bribes ; extortionate in their demands, tyrannical, 

1 F. W. H. Migeod, Through British Cameroons (1925), p. 206. 

“In Journal of the African Society, Vol. XXIV, No. xcvi, 
July. 1925, p. 378. 

“ J. F. J. Fitzpatrick in National Review, December, 1924. 


172 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


and opposed to the progressive and educated 
elements of their people. 

Indirect Rule unquestionably is liable to such 
abuses as these. It demands unceasing vigilance on 
the part of strong European administrators, who, 
while in sympathy with the principle involved of 
trusting the native rulers, must insist upon justice 
being done to the people. Much has been said 
about the tyranny of European rulers in Africa, 
but there is no more cruel tyranny than that which 
African rulers are capable of inflicting upon their 
own people. The alternative to Indirect Rule is 
to multiply the number of highly trained and 
competent white officials and to bring the Natives 
under their direct supervision. No doubt this 
would result immediately in a more incorruptible 
and humane, and, in many respects, a more efficient 
government ; but besides being impracticably 
expensive, such a system would be alien and 
exotic. Indirect Rule is founded upon the belief 
that “ all races prefer local self-rule, relatively 
inefficient though it may be, to direct alien rule 
however just and benevolent.” ^ This belief is 
well-grounded in fact, though here and there 
dissatisfied subjects may wish for the antithetical 
system without realising its implications. The 
strongest justification for Indirect Rule is that it 
is educative. It rests upon a conviction that 
every system of government, if it is to be permanent 
and progressive, must have its roots imbedded 

* Report on the Administration under Mandate of British 
Cameropns for the year 1924 (Colonial No. 16), p. 48. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 173 


deeply in the framework of indigenous society ; 
that native systems contain elements of high 
value and are capable of development in an upward 
direction under the stimulus of sympathetic European 
administrators. The policy enables the people 
to keep their self-respect. It is preparing them, as 
Direct Rule does not, for complete self-government 
in the days when they will be capable of standing 
alone. Progress must be slow, and in the meantime 
deficiencies are inevitable. Native public opinion 
must be trained to demand and accept reform. 
It is needless to insist that this implies the moral 
elevation of the community and especially of the 
ruling class. ^ 


III. 

Behind all systems of administration lies the 
fundamental question of what we intend to make 
of the African. This question has, whether in 
explicit terms or not, been answered in several 
ways. One possible and largely practised policy 
is that of Repression, which means keeping the 
Native in a subject and inferior position (“ keep 
him in his own place ”) as a mere serf of the dominant 
race. This is an impracticable policy : the African 
refuses to be repressed ; and if the Whites continue to 
attempt doing this, they will either provoke hatred 

1 An excellent description of Indirect Rule, and of the good 
results achieved, is given by A. C. G. Hastings in his Nigerian 
Days (1925). 


174 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


and wars of extermination, or they will suffer by 
the decay of the Natives. 

The French have, in the past, been the protagon- 
ists of the policy of Assimilation, which means that 
the same government, laws, political and social 
rights, are to be given to the Natives as to the 
citizens of the controlling Power. The French 
ideal is the creation of a Greater France in Africa. 
They have seized upon General Mangin’s aphorism ; 
“ France is a country of a hundred million 
inhabitants,” and to make this vision an actuality 
have striven to bring their African subjects into 
the great French family (“ de faire entrer V indigene 
dans la grande famille frangaise ”). Since a civili- 
zation is the expression of the mind of a people, 
the capacity to acquire an alien form is dependent 
upon the preliminary acquisition of certain definite 
mental characteristics : in other words, the African 
must first be endowed with a European mind if 
he is to be civilized in the European manner. 
The French have therefore persisted in teaching 
their language to their North and West African 
subjects — this is the principal reason of their 
schools. They pride themselves on the fact that 
in a few years there will not be a single village, 
however distant and isolated, where the Natives 
will not understand and speak French. The 
policy has been most fully developed in Algeria, 
where by the introduction of French laws and 
institutions, individual tenure of land, and the 
naturalising of Algerians as French citizens, the 
utmost has been done to assimilate the people. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 175 


This policy of Assimilation has been very severely 
criticized by French writersT For one thing, they 
say, it cannot be carried out consistently. If the 
five millions of Muslims in Algeria became French 
citizens, they would swamp the French colonists 
at all elections, and make it impossible for the 
French to remain in the country. For it has been 
proved that participation in French culture does 
not make Frenchmen of the Algerians. An acute 
American observer tells us that beneath a placid 
surface, there persists the “ silent, hidden bitterness 
of a conquered people, and French writers 
themselves admit that the Algerians are “ our 
mortal enemies.” Students of colonial policy like 
M. Louis Vignon unhesitatingly commend the 
system of Indirect Rule, as it has been adopted 
by the British and as the French are themselves 
earring out in Morocco. Statesmen like M. Albert 
Sarraut, the French Colonial Minister, who refuse 
to subscribe to any creed that sets forth the 
permanent inferiority of the Africans, and declare 
that the traditional government of the Natives 
must not be substituted by bad copies of our 
constitutions, will allow only a very gradual 
assimilation — a slow infiltration by little doses of 
civilization.^ 

In times past the Belgians aimed at breaking 

1 For example, Louis Vignon, Un programme de Politique 
Coloniale (1919). 

• W, M. Sloane, Greater France in Africa (1924). 

* In Etudes de colonisation comparie (1924), pp. 4, seqq. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL ^ 


176 

down native society and their agents on the Congo 
were expected every year to answer the question, 
“ What progress have our ideas and principles 
made among the native peoples?” Now their 
leaders have pronounced decidedly against assimi- 
lation. “ Any policy,” declares the ex-Colonial 
Minister, M. Louis Franck, “which, under thepretext 
that native institutions will inevitably weaken, 
tends to neglect them and not to sustain them, and 
to substitute for them the direct administration 
of the White, will lead to anarchy , . . . 
We wish to make better Africans ... we have 
no wish to make copies of Europeans who will 
never be more than humans of a third category.” 
And M. Franck asserts the ideal of the Belgian 
rule to be, “ By gradual action and by an education 
appropriate to the mentality and character of the 
people to develop in the Congo an African 
civilization.”^ 

The French often speak of themselves as the 
true heirs of the Roman civilization and as continuing 
the work of Rome in Africa. We ourselves look 
back upon the Romans as we hope the Africans 
will look back upon Europeans in centuries to 
come — with gratitude. Our land was an integral 
part of the Roman Empire for a period as long as 
from the Reformation until the present day. “ It 
was not for nothing that Western Europe was 
forged on the anvil of Rome, and who can say 
how much we owe to those long years of Roman 
law, Roman discipline, Roman faith and partnership 
* Ibid, pp. 85, 129. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 177 


in a common Empire ? ”^ We have much to 
learn from that period of history in relation to our 
dealings with the African peoples. As Earl Cromer 
has pointed out,^ the central political conception 
of Rome was not to autonomize, but to Romanize, 
or at least Hellenize the world. Her difficulties 
in the West were much less than those which 
confront modern Europeans in Africa. There seems 
to have been no colour question and no racial 
aversion in the Roman Empire, — little prejudice 
against intermarriage between Romans and bar- 
barians. Every office, even that of Emperor, lay 
open to every man of every sort of blood. Of the 
great poets who adorned the literary ages of Rome 
only one was Roman bom.^ There was indeed but 
a narrow ethnical gulf separating the Romans from 
their western subjects. Linguistic barriers were soon 
overcome, because there was some close kinship 
between the languages (much closer than between 
any European and African language), and Gauls 
and Italians and Iberians rapidly acquired Latin, 
which remains the basis of their vernaculars to-day. 
Religion presented little difficulty, for Rome was 
tolerant. Where the native religion was intran- 
sigent, as was the religion of the Jews, Rome failed 
most conspicuously to assimilate the people. 

Rome failed to maintain her empire, as any 
Empire must fail that pursues a policy of assimilation. 

Mr. Stanley Baldwin, Presidential Address to the Classical 
Association, January 8, 1926. 

^Ancient and Modern Imperialism (1910), p. 117. 

* James (Viscount) Bryce, Race Sentiment as a Factor in 
History (Creighton Lecture, 1915), pp. ii, 12. 

X 


178 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Sooner or later the insurgent national spirit rebels. 
There comes a time when a people realise that 
they too are somebody and have their own contri- 
bution to make to the wealth of humanity. The 
language of the dominant race does not permanently 
bind the subject peoples to the conqueror. They 
may drink deep of his spring, but the day conies 
when they resent the imposition of an alien culture. 
The Romans ruled Britain four hundred years, 
but Avhile the Britons took much from them, as a 
people they never became Romans. Deeply as the 
Romans influenced their ancestors, the Welsh 
remain characteristically Celtic. 

At first sight it appears more consonant with 
our professed duties as Trustees to bestow upon 
the Africans all our culture, in place of their own. 
Do we not believe this to be the very best in the 
world — our language, our literature, our educational 
system, our democratic institutions ? Can it be 
that we are acting rightly towards our adopted 
children if we withhold any of these things from 
them ? Some people, like M. Louis Vignon, oppose 
assimilation on the ground that Africans do not 
think, and constitutionally are incapable of thinking, 
as Europeans think. But others adopt a totally 
different attitude. They do not despise the African. 
On the contrary they believe that to deprive him 
of his own tongue and social institutions is to 
inflict an intolerable wrong upon him — a wrong 
which, if in his ignorance he does not resent now, 
he certainly will most energetically and rightfully 
resent in time to come. His culture is, it must be 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 179 


admitted, not equal in value to the European’s by 
a very long way ; but poor as it may be it is the 
African’s own — the expression of his ethos. It is 
capable of development, and it is the Trustee’s 
duty and privilege to help him to conserve it, to 
breathe a new spirit into it, to mould and shape 
it in harmony with the lessons we teach him. 

IV. 

This is comparatively easy where the Native is 
living on his own land, and removed from all but 
occasional intercourse with Europeans. It becomes 
a matter of very considerable difficulty when 
Europeans colonize and insist upon a complete 
revolution in the African’s life, as in Kenya, Southern 
Rhodesia, South Africa and elsewhere. The native 
problem in South Africa — i.e., the problem arising 
from the contact of White and Black — is one of the 
most difficult in the world to-day. 

Here are some of the elements of the problem : 
A relatively diminishing white population placed 
in the midst of an overwhelming and rapidly 
increasing majority of Africans. A section of the 
Whites deteriorating, while a section of the Blacks 
is advancing in efficiency. The Whites supremely 
anxious to maintain a high standard of European 
civilization, yet conscious that wherever White and 
Black meet rniscegenation is proceeding. The 
Whites have participated in educating the Blacks, 
but now shrink from giving political and economic 
equality to those who are fitted for it, fearing that 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


i8o 

once they did this the black voters, being in the 
immense majority, would rule the country, and 
that black skilled workers would drive the Whites 
off the labour market. The few Whites own most 
of the land and generally speaking populate it 
sparsely, while the Blacks are overcrowded in the 
areas now assigned to them and large numbers 
are compelled to become squatters and slum- 
dwellers ; — half the native population lives on land 
owned by Europeans, or in urban and mining 
areas. A large section of the Whites is anxious to 
do justice to the Blacks, but a larger section still 
maintains a policy of repression ; while the educated 
Blacks are losing their respect for the Whites, and 
clamour for a removal of all disabilities. 

The problem that South African statesmen 
have to solve is in brief this : How to secure the 
realisation of European ideals while satisfying the 
aspirations of the Africans ? 

The obvious solution is to devise some plan by 
which the two races can live side by side in the 
same country, each following its own ethnical 
path, co-operating where possible but competing 
against each other as little as may be in the economic 
sphere. In a word, some measure of segregation 
is necessary. 

This policy has been advocated by some of the 
best friends of the South African Natives. Dr. 
John Philip, the eminent superintendent of the 
London Missionary Society, strongly urged the 
partition of the country into white and black 
areas. He was in his time the best-hated man 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? i8i 


in South Africa and it is only now becoming clear, 
thanks largely to the studies of Professor W. M. 
Macmillan of the Witwatersrand University, ^ that 
if his prescient advice had been followed in this 
matter the problem would be nearer solution. 
Segregation was the policy deliberately framed 
and put into practice in Natal by Sir Theophilus 
Shepstone, perhaps the greatest administrator of 
native affairs Africa has ever known. It is the 
policy that has maintained the Bechuanaland and 
Basutoland Protectorates as native territories. It 
was advocated in one of the best books published 
on the Native problem — Sir Maurice Evans’s 
White and Black in Soiith-East Africa, and has since 
received the support of such friends of the African 
as Mr. E. J. C. Stevens^ and Professor Brookes. ^ 
The central doctrine underlying the policy is that 
set forth in an earlier section of this book, viz., 
that the Africans have an ethos of their own which 
is of value to humanity, and that to destroy this 
and to insist upon making them into black Europeans 
is to inflict a wrong upon them, and to rob mankind 
of a valuable asset. No doubt there are Europeans 
who advocate the policy from a less worthy motive : 
they would gladly segregate (or profess that they 
would segregate) the lot “ by driving them into the 
Sahara or into the sea — anywhere, so as to get 

1 See for example his paper read at the Conference on Native 
Affairs held under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Churches 
at Johannesburg, September, 1923. 

* White and Black (n.d.). 

’ History of Native Policy in South Africa (1924). 

* Quoted from a South African paper by Stevens, op. cit., p. 144. 


i 82 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


rid of the hated race. But such hostile views must 
not hinder us from supporting on higher grounds 
the better course both in the African’s and the 
European’s interest. 

The policy of Segregation is distrusted by many 
white men. They fear that if the natives ^possess 
their own land they will not go out to work. The 
example of Basutoland should relieve their minds 
on this matter. And even if territorial segregation 
in the full sense of the term could be carried out, 
it is certain that at no distant date sufficient arable 
land could not be found to allow every native to 
have his small plot : there would always be a 
surplus of labour available for the Europeans. 
Another argument against segregation also fails to 
convince those who are acquainted with Basutoland. 
For segregation does not mean “ to hedge the 
African into a garden, however pretty and safe and 
sufficient in itself, and tell him to be a good little 
boy.” Basutoland proves that segregation may 
spell sane and orderly progress. 

Some measure of segregation — or differential 
development, as Professor Brookes prefers to call 
it — has become the accepted policy of South 
African statesmen. It was embodied in Cecil 
Rhodes’ Glen Grey Act of 1894 which set up the 
admirable Council system of local self-government 
among the natives ; in the Natives’ Land Act of 
1913 (“ an unsatisfactory measure in all con- 
science”^); the Native Affairs Act, No. 23, of 1920 
(providing for separate administration) and the 

I Brookes, op. cit., p. 336. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? i?3 

Act of 1923 which applied it to urban areas.- The 
principle has been accepted by Generals Botha, 
Smuts and Hertzog. The Johannesburg Conference 
of missionaries and others, British, Dutch and 
Africans, — “ the largest and most important 
unofficial Conference on Native Affairs ever held in 
South Africa ” — expressed itself “ in favour of the 
principle of the differential development of the 
Bantu so far as such differentiation is based on 
Bantu traditions and requirements, and is not 
used as a means of repression ” ; and approved of 
segregation “ so far as this general differential 
development can be described as ‘segregation.’”^ 
To accept a principle is one thing, to put it 
into practice is another. General Hertzog, the 
Prime Minister of the Union, has promised to bring 
in a Bill during the 1926 Session of Parliament, 
and by the time this book is published his scheme 
may be known in full. At present we have only 
the outline of it as set forth in his speech at 
Smithfield in November, 1925. ^ According to this 
he proposes to extend to all native areas the Native 
Councils already at work in the Transkei, with 
General Provincial Councils and a Union Council of 
fifty members, the majority to be elected by the 
Natives and a minority nominated by Government. 
This Union Council would have advisory powers at 
first, but ultimately would legislate on purely 
Native affairs. The existing Parliamentary 

^European and Bantu, being Papers and Addresses read at 
the Conference on Native Affairs (1923), p. 44. 

* Reported verbatim in The Friend, Bloemfontein , November 
14. 19^5- 


184 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


franchise is to be taken from Natives in the Cape 
Province (the only province where they can now 
vote), and Natives throughout the Union are to 
elect seven members, who must be Europeans. 
General Hertzog refuses to admit Natives to the 
Union Parliament. The Coloured man (as distinct 
from the Native) is to be placed on an equal footing 
with the European, economically, industrially and 
politically. 

This is a far-reaching, and even revolutionary, 
scheme and whatever may be its fate. General 
Hertzog merits praise for his courage in proposing 
it. The crux of the whole matter lies in the pro- 
portioning of land, and on this subject the Prime 
Minister has not unfolded his plan. Difficult as 
the question is, he believes it not to be insur- 
mountable. 

The ideal plan would be to demarcate areas 
which would be so many Basutolands where the 
Natives might develop naturally under the guidance 
of European administrators and missionaries. Mr. 
Stevens made such a proposal. In the book to 
which reference has been made, he suggested that 
in addition to the areas now held by them, part of 
the Transvaal and the whole of Natal should form 
part of a great native state under the control of the 
Union. 1 But this scheme is rendered impracticable 
by the opposition of the Natalians who have taken 
as their slogan, “ Not another acre for the Natives.” 
The Land Commission set up by the Act of 1913 

1 See the map in J. W. Gregory, The Menace of Colour , 
P- 139. 


HOW ARE THE AFRICANS GOVERNED? 185 


recommended substantially the division of the 
land between White and Black, allocating about 
232,000,000 acres for occupation by the million 
and a half of Whites, and about 27,000,000 acres 
to the four and a half millions of Africans : in 

other words, ii per cent, of the land for the use 
of three-fourths of the population and 89 per cent, 
for the other one-fourth. A Native representative 
at the Johannesburg Conference ^ spoke of the 
injustice and unfairness of this allocation and 
asked that fifty per cent, of the land be given 
to the Natives and fifty per cent, to the 
Europeans. But even the areas allocated by 
the Land Commission, other than those already 
occupied by the Natives, have not been set apart 
for them, because it was impossible to induce 
Parliament to sanction the ear-marking, for exclusive 
native ownership, of land already occupied by 
Europeans. The Natives are therefore worse off 
than they were before the Land Act was passed : 
first, because restrictions have been put upon their 
purchasing land in areas allocated to the Whites ; 
secondly, because inroads have been made by 
Whites upon areas theoretically allocated to the 
Natives ; and thirdly, because in the economic 
sphere the principle of segregation has been carried 
out to the natives’ detriment by employing white 
men on railways, etc., in their place. No wonder 
that many of the Natives believe that “Segregation ” 
is only a camouflaged form of “ Repression.” If 

1 Rev. Z. R. Mahabai.’e in his paper on Segregation, Report 
PP 38, seqq. 


186 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


now the principle is carried so far as to segregate 
the Natives still further economically by means of 
a Colour Bar Billri excluding them by law from 
performing skilled labour, while depriving them of 
the existing franchise in Cape Province and refusing 
them adequate land on which they can live their own 
lives and secure some measure of economic inde- 
pendence — then the state of the Native will be 
definitely worse than ever. The truth of the matter 
is that the solution of this most serious problem calls 
for self-sacrifice on the part of South Africans. 
Repression is a policy that is impracticable and 
unjust — the conscience of enlightened white men 
forbids it. Segregation, in the limited sense here 
indicated, can only be carried out if adequate 
land is provided for the Natives. If the Whites 
cannot brace themselves to making the surrender, 
then there is only one alternative that squares with 
justice. Economic segregation and political segre- 
gation must be dismissed, and the Natives must 
be allowed to work and vote according to their 
abilities. It would be preferable to make it possible 
for the Natives to develop their own civilization on 
their own land, but if this cannot be secured then 
let us go in for thorough, out-and-out Assimilation. 

1 Thrown out by the Senate in a previous session, the Bill 
was promptly reintroduced in 1926 and passed the third reading 
in the House of Assembly on February 4, by sixty-four votes, 
to forty-seven, in spite of General Smuts' warning, “ The natives 
are seething with discontent all over South Africa.” The 
Senate rejected it again, but a joint meeting of the two Houses 
gave a majority of 16 in favour of the Bill on May 12th. 


CHAPTER VIII. 


Wherein is Pictured the Disintegration of 
African Social Life and its Evil 
Consequences. 

I. 

P eople cannot live together in a group unless 
they recognize some common principles which 
regulate their conduct towards each other. Their 
deep-seated instincts pull them in diverse directions. 
Social life becomes difficult, if not altogether 
impossible, where the passions are uncontrolled. 
Unless the altruistic tendencies are fostered and 
consecrated by a civic conscience society cannot 
exist. There must be some restraints, objective 
or subjective, upon the individual’s impulses. 
Never since our primeval ancestors began to live 
in groups has freedom existed in the sense that 
every man could do as he liked. Rousseau began 
his Social Contract by saying Uhomme est ne lihre, 
et partout il est dans les fers. In a sense he did not 
intend, the words are true. Men have forged 
fetters for themselves, in order that they might 
live together. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


1 88 


Neither in principle nor in practice are the 
Africans anarchists. Some of them are fierce in 
their love of independence and sensitive as a 
highly-trained race-horse to the touch of whip or 
spur, but even these have to submit to restraint, 
or they could not live together. The behaviour of 
Africans is not left to unchartered freedom, but 
is governed by a system of rules and regulations, 
so extensive, so complicated, that Europeans who 
study it stand amazed, and are tempted to declare 
the Africans to be the slaves of tribal custom. 
That the Africans rebel against such restrictions 
upon their liberty is only to say that they are 
human. The principles of conduct are there, 
however, and are known to all members of the 
community. Africans may be immoral ; they are 
not unmoral. 

The unsophisticated African lives at the 
collectivistic stage of human evolution. This is 
not to say that there is no recognition of individu- 
ality; personal property, for example, is held ; but 
the individual is far less distinct from his group 
than he is in a European community. What 
M. E. Jacottet says of the Basuto is true of Africans 
generally: “the individual never really attains 
his majority, he must remain more or less in the 
tutelage of his family, clan and tribe.” The 
African acts as part of a whole. His well-being 
depends upon his conforming rigidly to general 
practice. All through life he remains a unit in a 
group, and thinks of himself as such : he is a member 
of his clan, of his age-grade, of his tribe. A stringent 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 189 


etiquette regulates every relation with his fellow- 
men. He shapes his conduct according to the 
thinking and doing of his fellows and comes to 
fear and hate all change. Indeed it is dangerous to 
do anything contrary to the general practice. The 
community is always on guard to protect itself 
against any innovation. Inventors of new ways 
are liable to be charged with unholy compacts 
with the devil — or with what stands for the devil 
in African minds. On the Congo, we are told by 
the Rev. J. H. Weeks, the introduction of a new 
article of trade always brought upon the introducer 
a charge of witchcraft, and there is a legend that 
the man who discovered the way to tap palm trees 
for palm-wine was looked upon as a warlock and 
paid the penalty with his life. The blacksmith 
contrives the making of a new kind of knife and 
instead of admiring his initiative his neighbours 
are alarmed by the disquieting novelty and react 
against him. All this, of course, is not peculiar 
to the Africans ; to a lesser extent the hatred of 
new ways has marked Englishmen in the past, if 
it does not mark them to-day. But Africans are 
more conservative than ourselves because they 
are so much less individualistic than we are. Pushed 
to extreme limits the misoneism of the Africans 
would stereotype everything and no change could 
ever take place. As a matter of fact, change does 
take place. But it must come through recognized 
channels ; an unauthorized individual may not 
strike out upon a fresh path. 

When we succeed in getting behind the African’s 


igo 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


stock answer that he does things because his 
fathers always did them so, what do we learn ? 
We learn that he bases his practices upon his 
belief in “ supernatural ” agencies. The riotous 
instincts are restrained by forces that are not of 
this tangible sphere. In other words, the ethics of 
the Africans, their customary morality, is grounded 
in their religion. Their morality is not ours in 
all respects — from our point of view it sometimes 
appears, indeed, highly immoral. Nor is their 
religion ours : it differs so much from ours that 
some observers have denied that Africans have 
any religion at all. But such as their morality is, 
and such as their religion is, the two are inextricably 
fused together, are, indeed, but aspects of one whole. 

The part that religion plays in the life of Africans 
has not always been recognized by Europeans. To 
many students a realization of it has come home 
with surprise. Mr. Hobley, for example, confesses 
that he lived for some years in close touch with the 
natives of Kenya without understanding this side 
of their life. “ There is no doubt,” he concludes, 
after a prolonged study, “ these beliefs tend to 
check progress and development, as we understand 
them. Although this cannot be doubted, we must 
not lose sight of the fact that, on the whole, they 
undoubtedly act as moral restraints and perform in 
very much the same way the functions which a 
dogmatic religion fulfils among people of a higher 
culture. To ignore the religious basis of African 

1C. W. Hobley, C.M.G., Bantu Beliefs and Magic (1922), 
p. 282. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 19 1 


social life is a great error — the kind of error that 
was made when the Golden Stool of Ashanti was 
treated as a purely temporal object, without 
consideration of its deep spiritual significance. One 
is not surprised to find Captain Rattray beginning 
his chapter on Land Tenure in Ashanti with an 
examination of the religious aspect of the matter. ^ 
You cannot divorce religion from social custom 
and law in Africa. Religion, so far as the Africans 
are concerned, is, in M. Vignon’s words, un puissant 
appareil de contrainte. 


II. 

To describe the diversified forms of religion 
found in Africa would be impossible here. It must 
suffice to mention a few relevant features. Amidst 
all the variations of belief, three articles may be 
said to be common to the African creed : viz., a 
belief in a Supreme Being ; a belief in survival of 
the human personality after death ; and a belief 
in mana — if we may transfer to Africa a Melanesian 
word. We are here concerned with the relation 
between these beliefs and the customary morality. 
Probably the recognition of a High God has the 
least effect upon conduct ; but many of the Africans 
declare that their customs were established by Him 
and that any breach of them is a transgression of 
the divine will. Much more commonly the spirits 
of deceased ancestors are regarded as the guardians 
of the tribal morality. The customs have come 

* R. S. Rattray, J^shanti, p. 21^. 


ig2 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


down from ancient times and it is natural to suppose 
that if not ordained by God they were established 
by great men in the past. These ancestors still 
live, though invisible. They are concerned in the 
well-being of their descendants, and any breach 
of traditional custom is an offence against them. 
They have the power of visiting their wrath upon 
transgressors. What Mr. Casalis said of the Basuto 
is true of Africans generally : “ there could be no 
more direct provocation of the anger of the ancestors 
they worshipped than by departing from the 
precepts and examples they left behind them.” 
The land where their bodies lie buried, and the 
forest which now harbours their spirits, are rendered 
sacred by their association with the ancestors. 
They form the strongest bond of union between 
the tribesmen. In a word, African society does 
not comprise the living only ; the living and the 
dead compose a close interdependent community, 
and anything which disturbs the harmony between 
them is regarded as a crime. 

Neither of the two articles of belief mentioned is 
sufficient to account for the permanence of all 
traditional custom. A still larger factor is what 
we commonly think of as “ magic,” but it is more 
properly described as a belief in that impersonal 
potency which the Melanesians call mana. It 
may be difficult to discover equivalent terms in 
African vocabularies, but unless we presuppose a 
belief in mana it is impossible rightly to appreciate 
many important elements of African life. As in 
Melanesia, so in Africa, religion consists largely in 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 193 

getting mana for oneself, or in getting it used for 
one’s benefit. This is why “ charms ” play such an 
important part in the African ’sv daily life — they are 
vehicles of mana. In the form of “ mascots ” 
these have of late been much in evidence among 
certain emancipated folk in our own land : but 
what is a mere siUy superstition in England is a 
vital thing in Africa. Belief in them forms part 
of the faith by which Africans hve. They have 
firmer trust in their charms than many of us repose 
in the providence of God. 

The taboos which so largely regulate the black 
man’s conduct also have their basis in a belief in 
mana. He must not do this, or that, say this 
thing or the other, eat this or that, because otherwise 
some evil consequence will follow. He will not 
necessarily be punished by the chief and council ; 
but his deed will automatically and inevitably 
react upon him. The peculiarity of a true taboo 
lies in the fact that infringement brings its own 
punishment. If a man touches a live wire, contrary 
to official warning, there is no necessity for a 
magistrate’s court to inflict a penalty upon him 
for a breach of regulation : the live wire does its 
own work. Certain deeds and words and even- 
desires are charged with a kind of spiritual electricity 
which will at once give you a shock. A person may 
be taboo — there is something about him that 
jeopardises the well-being of others. Things may 
be taboo — they are a source of peril : there is a 
kind of malefic essence in them which makes them 
dangerous. 


o 


194 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


All this may seem fantastic to us, but here in 
the belief in all-pervasive mystic force we find one 
of the strongest sanctions of tribal morality. A few 
illustrations will bring home the force of this 
belief. 

In books on Western Africa much can be read 
about Fetishism. It is a term that might well be 
eliminated from our vocabulary, for it has come 
to have an ambiguous meaning. Captain Rattray 
would confine the word to translate the Ashanti 
term suman which means “ charm (amulet or 
talism.an). We may then say that Fetishism 
includes a belief in mana and the practices which 
grow out of that belief. Mr. Claridge has an 
interesting chapter on “ Some useful applications 
of Fetishism.”! He says : 

“ There is scarcely anything in trade, sport, civic life, 
law administration, land rights, etc., but that the order 
which regulates them comes from and, in a large measure, 
is dependent upon fetishism. It supplies the law civile 
and the law divinum. It provides the standard by which 
one negro deals with his fellow negro. . . It stipulates 
what ought and what ought not to be done according to 
fetish standard. To take these away and to leave nothing 
in their place would be to reduce heathendom to the most 
hopeless pandemonium of lawlessness and self-destruction.” 

A fetish set up in a garden will invariably keep 
off all thieves and robbers. Fetishism therefore 
protects ownership and moreover staves off the 
sense of guilt which would result through acts of 
stealing. A specific charm tied on the garment of 

1 G. Cyril Claridge, Wild Bush Tribes of Tropical Africa 
(1922), pp. 126, sqq. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 195 


a girl will effectively protect her virginity if she 
wishes it to be protected. Charms sometimes 
regulate honesty in trade — for a sharper will not 
try tricks upon a man whom he believes to live 
under their protection. 

In fact, here is the truth so eloquently expounded 
by Sir James Frazer in his Psyche's Task, namely 
that “ among certain races and at certain stages 
of evolution some social institutions which we all, 
or most of us, believe to be beneficial have rested 
on a basis of superstition.” Civilized folk defend 
these institutions by solid and weighty arguments ; 
and these very institutions have, among peoples of 
lower culture, derived (says Sir James) much of their 
strength from beliefs which nowadays we should 
condemn unreservedly as superstitious and absurd. 
His book is devoted to establishing the fact that 
superstition has (i) strengthened the respect for 
government and has thereby contributed to the 
establishment and maintenance of civil order ; 

(2) strengthened the respect for private property ; 

(3) strengthened the respect for marriage and has 
thereby contributed to a stricter observance of the 
rules of sexual morality both among the married 
and unmarried ; and (4) strengthened the respect 
for human life and thereby contributed to the 
security of its enjo5unent. By doing these things 
superstition has rendered a great service to humanity. 
As a body of false opinions it is indeed a most 
dangerous guide in practice, “ but vast as are these 
evils, they ought not to blind us to the benefit 
which superstition has conferred on society by 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


196 

furnishing the ignorant, the weak and the foolish 
with a motive, bad though it be, for good conduct.”^ 

^Vhat then, it may be asked, will happen if the 
old theoretical basis of the African’s tribal morality 
is shattered ? Destroy the religion (or, as Sir James 
Frazer would say, the superstition) and the 
community is resolved into lawless, masterless 
individuals who recognize no tie, no restraint — 
unless a more solid foundation is built for the 
tribal morality to rest upon. 

III. 

Now, one seemingly inevitable consequence of 
the invasion of Africa by Europeans is the dis- 
integration of African society as organised prior 
to their arrival. Even though no frontal attack 
be made upon the African’s religion, so closely 
interfused are the religion and the system of society, 
anything that tends to destroy the one necessarily 
destroys the other. 

Let us see how it works. 

From what is here said the impression must not 
be gathered that it is only wicked white men who 
do the mischief, or that all who do the mischief 
are wicked. The argument is that white men qua 
white men, not because of their maliciousness, but 
simply because they represent a culture and have 
notions diverse from the African’s, tend to destroy 
African social life. 

I knew of one trader who at the time when 
1 Sir J. G. Frazer, Psyche's Task (1920), p. 155. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 197 


money was first coming into use in Northern 
Rhodesia brought in quantities of brand-new 
bright farthings and palmed them off as half- 
sovereigns among the natives, who did not then 
know the value of coins or the difference between 
copper and gold. He went off with a mob of 
cattle, having inflicted a heavy blow upon the 
white man’s prestige. But nobody in his senses 
would represent that trader as a typical British 
merchant in Africa. Men like the brothers Moir^ 
represent a host of like-minded men, who have 
conferred great benefits upon the Africans and 
have worthily sustained the reputation of Britons. 
But even if we take commerce at its best (forgetting 
such things as the trade in gin) and give every 
merchant the high character of the Moirs, commerce 
has not been an unmixed blessing to the African. 

For one thing, the introduction of European 
goods has gone a long way towards destroying 
African arts and crafts. 

The Ibibios of Southern Nigeria, Mr. Talbot says,^ 
used to cover the face of a dead chief with a carved 
wooden mask — “ conventionalised enough, but with 
a certain dignity, imitating however rudely, the 
golden burial masks of old Greece.” The carving 
of this mask was a work of great skill, reverently 
and sorrowfully carried out by one of the chief’s 
own retainers. But, nowadays, Mr. Talbot tells us, 
the chief often sits in state and is laid to his last 

^ F. L. M. Moir, After Livingstone : an African Trade Romance 

(1924)- 

* P. Amaury Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria {1923), p. 147. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


198 

long rest, his features covered with a flimsy fifth 
of November caricature introduced by some 
enterprising trader. 

The Ba-ila chiefs in old days wore two kinds of 
ornaments which marked their dignity. On their 
arms they carried ivory bracelets cleverly turned 
on a lathe by native craftsmen ; and upon their 
forehead, or upon their breast, they wore the 
impande — the base of a shell imported from an 
unknown source. Traders have introduced clever 
celluloid and porcelain imitations of these things. 
I remember the disgust showed by a chief whose 
newly-acquired impande fell into the fire and 
vanished in a gust of flame. Nowadays any Tom, 
Dick or Harry can purchase these things at a trader’s 
store. The ivory-turner’s skill is no longer in 
demand. 

These are examples of the substitution of flimsy 
things for genuine pieces of native art. In other 
cases the trader induces the natives to abandon 
their own more flimsy articles for substantial 
things from his store of imported goods. Many 
Africans used to manufacture cloth from cotton 
or the bark of trees ; now they purchase stuffs 
woven in Lancashire and elsewhere. They smelted 
iron ore and fabricated hoes and knives and axes, 
showing no little skill and taste ; nowadays they 
get them from the traders. In the old days native 
Nigerians smelted tin and made various articles of 
it ; now Europeans employ natives to mine tin for 
export ; the native industry is suppressed ; the 
furnaces are broken down ; the native smelters 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 199 


have been pensioned off.^ Natives of the Katanga 
district of the Congo used to make handsome 
articles out of the copper they smelted : to-day 
the industry is dead, because Europeans control 
the mines and export the copper. Thus mining- 
companies conspire with traders to destroy African 
industries. 

It may readily be granted that the Natives can 
buy a better axe than any they could make out of 
iron or copper, and better cloth produced by 
Lancashire looms than any they could produce on 
their own primitive hand-looms. They can purchase 
crocks which are superior perhaps to their own 
earthenware. But it is no gain to native character 
when infant (infantile, if the word is preferred) 
industries are thus supplanted. That the Africans 
have skill and taste in their craftsmanship a visit 
to the British Museum proves abundantly. These 
arts and crafts gave them an outlet for their creative 
power, which should be developed rather than 
suppressed. Even the despised Negro has some- 
thing to teach the world in art. 2 

1 See The Geological Survey of Nigeria, bulletin No. 4. 

’ See a paragraph in The Negro Year Book (published in 
U.S.A.), headed “ Primitive African Art Continues to Attract 
Attention of Art World.” It is claimed that " all the interesting 
developments in art have drawn inspiration from African 
creations.” Referring to an exhibition at Brooklyn it is said, 
" Visiting painters and sculptors as well as people of the 
industrial world are stirred by the new and inspiring art of the 
natives of the Belgian Congo.” — •“ There are sufficient indications 
not to prove, but certainly to make not ridiculous, a theory 
which might attribute to the ancient negroid penetration of 
Europe and Asia a love of music and a desire to reproduce in 
painting, engraving, or sculpture the striking aspects of beasts 
and birds or of human life.” — Sir H. H. Johnston in Interracial 
Problems (1911), p. 333. 


200 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


The evil does not consist merely in discouraging 
and destroying African arts and crafts. A blow is 
given to the religious sentiment of the craftsmen. 
Blacksmiths, for example, depend for their skill 
upon what they regard as supernatural aid ; to 
take away their craft is to inflict a wound in the 
body of religious feeling which is the cement of 
society. 

We need not wonder then that here and there 
some far-seeing African leader has opposed the 
entry of European traders. Mr. Torday tells of 
a chief who forbade the use of European goods 
under the penalty of death. 

“ From his point of view it was a very wise though 
drastic measure : peaceful penetration is best achieved by 
creating a want and then making its supply dependent on 
the admission of the trader ; after the trader comes the 
missionary, after him the state official, and they bring in 
their suite tax-collectors, judges, soldiers and other trouble- 
some, meddling people, whose activities bring about without 
fail the collapse of the native’s whole social fabric, as it 
happened with the Bushongo.”^ 


IV. 

A new era has opened in Africa wherever under 
European influence the land has assumed great 
value. It is not only where natives have been 
dispossessed of their lands that social changes 
have taken place. On the Gold Coast the British 
Government has encouraged cultivation of cocoa 
by Natives on their own lands. The growing of 

1 Emile Torday, On the Trail of the Bushongo (1924), p. 235. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. ioi 


cocoa trees means a revolution in methods of 
agriculture, seeing that it involves abandonment of 
the old system of hoeing a plot of land and then 
moving on to fresh soil after two or three years. 
Land is taken up with the more permanent crop 
and there remains less land to be cultivated on the 
old extensive plan. Instead of allowing the soil 
to remain iallow, the native farmer must adopt 
intensive methods, with manuring and rotation of 
crops, if he is to grow his own food. The cultivation 
of land for many years in succession and the planting 
of trees inevitably affect his ideas of land tenure. 
He becomes discontented with the old system under 
which the land belongs to the tribe ; he wants his 
right acknowledged to the plot with which he has 
taken so much trouble. “ The extension of plan- 
tations and the intensive cultivation of native 
food-stuffs are slowly but surely cracking the 
common law of communal holding of land and the 
rootlets of private ownership are appearing in the 
cracks.”^ Here again is the conflict between the 
old culture founded upon immemorial custom, and 
the new which introduces unwonted personal 
interests in its train. 

When, on the other hand, the Africans are dis- 
possessed of their lands, a still greater wound is 
inflicted upon societj^. 

* W. H. Barker (Reader in Geography, University of Man- 
chester) in Journal of the African Society, Vol. XXIV, p. 380. 
See his valuable papers : The Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate, 
in the Journal of the Manchester Geographical Society, Vols. 
XXXVII-XXXVIII, Parts I-IV, 1921-22 ; Historical Geography 
of West Africa and Economic Geography in West Africa, in The 
Geographical Teacher. 


20 2 


THE GOLDEN STOOL, 


Other land may be given them in place of that 
taken by the farmer or mining company. Con- 
ceivably it may be better land, but it has not the 
same value to them. On the old site stood the 
sacred groves, rich in association with the venerated 
ancestors. There too lay the graves in which 
their ancestors were buried and to which they were 
accustomed to repair periodically with their offerings. 
A new site can never be the same to the people, 
for African religion is rooted in the soil and bound 
to the parcel of ground hallowed by the presence 
of the dead. To understand the firm attachment 
of the people to their land, one needs to hear the 
pagan African’s lament for the piteous condition to 
which the spirits of the dead have been reduced 
by the enforced emigration of their subjects and 
children. Separation from their land means a 
severance between the corporeal and incorporeal 
members of the community, with the inevitable 
slackening of the moral obligations which that 
communion entails. 

A government official once expressed surprise 
when I represented to him in this way the wrong 
done to the Natives’ deepest sentiments by enforced 
removal from their land. “ As a missionary,” 
he said, “ you should rather welcome anything 
that breaks their attachment to old superstitions.” 
But this is surely to take a short-sighted view of 
the matter. As a missionary it would have given 
me joy to see the Natives, of their own accord, 
and in response to my teaching, renounce their old 
faith, cut down or neglect their sacred groves in 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 203 


favour of the truth ; but it is not to the interest 
of Christianity, any more than it is to the interest 
of the Government or of the Natives themselves, 
that the Natives should be shocked out of the old 
faith and lose their sense of obligation to powers 
supernatural before they are ready to receive 
Christianity with its new obligations. I would 
much rather deal with people who are zealous for 
the old faith than with people who are shorn of 
all faith. 


V. 

In the old days the Native rarely travelled far 
from his own village. In this secluded existence 
fresh conceptions rarely if ever invaded his mind. 
Now under new conditions thousands of men leave 
their homes for long periods in order to work for 
wages on mines and plantations, where they are 
brought into contact not only with white men 
but with black men of other tribes. For the first 
time in their lives, they find themselves free from 
the control of tribal public opinion. In some 
directions — namely, in regard to material wealth — 
there may be some gain, but little to compensate 
for the disastrous effect upon character. Liberated 
for a time from moral restraint, the detached 
African can do much as he likes so long as he does 
not come into conflict with European law. It is 
a common complaint in Africa that whereas the 
Native under old conditions was courteous, dignified, 
and disciplined, the “civilized” Native is impudent, 


204 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


sullen, jaunty — in fact, “ spoilt.” It is the new 
economic conditions that more than anything else 
“ spoil ” him. It is unreasonable to break down the 
system of tribal control and then to expect the 
Native to retain the tribal virtues. 

How does it work ? As it has been urged again 
and again, his religion does rule the African’s 
conduct. But it is weak in the degree that it is 
not portable by the individual. It is a tribal faith, 
anchored to the ancestral soil. It is true that 
the African has a belief in God who is not localized, 
but this part of his creed which might give him 
support while he is living away from home is the 
part which exerts least influence upon conduct. 
The ancestral gods do not travel : they have great 
power over the members of the tribe while they 
live on their own land ; they have none upon the 
solitary individual living away from home. When 
men of various tribes congregate at a mine or on 
a plantation they soon manage to converse, but 
they do not all observe the same taboos. A new- 
comer may, for example, be laughed into eating 
something he has always been taught to avoid. 
The danger is that he may go on to disregard 
obligations which are more ethical than food- 
regulations. After six months’ absence men return 
home with morals loosened. They re-enter the 
tribal circle and the old constraints should once 
more exert their power, but these men have 
discovered that they can live very comfortably 
without their gods, and, while they will join with 
their fellows in the religious observances, they no 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 205 


longer have the respect for the gods that they once 
had. They do not show the same regard for the 
chief and other authority. They look with scorn 
upon the ancient restraints exercised upon stay-at- 
home folk. In the old days a charm placed upon 
a pumpkin-patch kept robbers away ; these men 
have learnt from sophisticated companions to 
pooh-pooh such silly things, and now thieve with 
an easy conscience. 

Is it to be wondered at that the Chiefs, who are 
the custodians of the tribal traditions, lament 
the growing anarchy of their young men ? 

The evil is intensified by the attitude too often 
taken up by those European employers who regard 
the Native as a being destitute of finer sentiments 
than a love for sensual gratification, for beer- 
drinking, feasting and sexual indulgence ; who label 
all native religious observances as “ superstition ” 
which it is to the advantage of the native to have 
knocked out of him. The native is in a worse 
position than a young man in England who has 
been brought up in a pious home and is suddenly 
thrust out into the wicked world, friendless and 
alone. As with him, so with the Native, the case 
calls for sympathy and help. Generally the Native 
gets no assistance from his master, who if he has 
fed him and paid him eight shillings a month 
reckons that he has done his duty. It is, perhaps, 
too much to urge that a man should have a care 
for his servants’ moral welfare. Yet it is really 
to the advantage of the master to do so. 

Certain religious duties are impossible to observe 


2o6 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


when a Native is absent from home. He may fall 
under the necessity of obtaining ceremonial puri- 
fication from either what East Africans call a thahu, 
the impurity caused by breach of a taboo, or from 
the impurity left by a death in the family. If a 
chief or relative dies he is under obligation to take 
part in the obsequies. The man knows that the 
average employer would ridicule his request for 
leave of absence to attend to such religious duties, 
and he is faced with the alternative to run away 
without permission or to remain and fail in his 
duty. If he goes, he will be arrested and punished 
for breach of contract. If he remains it is with an 
uneasy mind, for he is sure that something evil will 
happen to his kindred or to himself. Then if after 
all nothing does happen, his religious suscepti- 
bilities receive a shock which cannot but have an 
effect upon his character. Mr. Hobley has well 
pointed out that it is to the interest of the employer 
to be sympathetic in such matters. Here lies one 
of the reasons why so many natives are reluctant 
to leave their homes to seek employment, and why 
their chiefs are reluctant to allow them to go. 
Europeans who understand these things and act 
accordingly do not have difficulty in getting 
labourers.^ 

Many of the natives who leave their homes to 
seek employment do not return — some settle as 
squatters upon some European farm, others drift 
into the towns. The last-named create the greatest 
problem of all. In South Africa the far-reaching 
^ C. W. Hobley, Bantu Beliefs and Magic (1922), pp. 283, 284. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 207 


industrial revolution has, since about 1885, trans- 
formed 35 per cent, of the native population into 
town-dwellers. “ In Johannesburg itself the result 
of one generation’s ‘ progress ’ has been the 
creation of slums where white and black live in a 
porcine juxtaposition — slums so disgraceful and 
immoral that the thought of them murders sleep.” ^ 
The conditions under which natives live in the 
“ locations ” outside South African towns are 
awful beyond description. The same evils are 
cropping up in the new townships built in other parts 
of Africa. At Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, 
about 12,000 Africans are crowded together and 
all but a few of them. Dr. Leys tells us, “ live in 
shelters that are inferior to village huts and are 
quite unfit for human habitation. The fact is 
widely recognized and bewailed in the colony. 

No pretence is here made that life in a pagan 
African village is sweet and clean, but it is wholesome 
compared to life in these slums. It is true that the 
European Governments provide policemen and 
magistrates’ courts to preserve order, but, after all, 
these take cognisance only of breaches of the law. 
They cannot supply the moral restraints that are 
needed. Even where drink is excluded, the evils 
of prostitution (in some places the prostitutes are 
white women) and other things remain. There is 
no need to speak of the unholy influence of the 
Cinema upon the minds of Africans. 

^ Dr. E. B. Brookes, paper read before the South African 
Association for the advancement of Science. Reported in The 
South African Outlook, March 2, 1925. 

* Kenya, p. 273. The figures quoted from Dr. Leys are old. 


2o8 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


It may be said that such Natives as are here 
described should be congratulated upon their 
emancipation from tyrannous custom, that they 
have learnt manliness and the worthlessness of 
superstition. But if they have learnt to cast 
away old restraints upon natural desires and have 
not acquired new moral sanctions, how much the 
better are they ? Are they not worse ? 

VI. 

The methods of governing the African have 
already been referred to. I shall not be suspected 
of minimising the good work done by various 
administrations in Africa — I have seen it, and no 
man can have a greater admiration for it than I. 
But however anxious the British or any other 
Government may be to rule justly and well, and 
however much by a system of indirect rule they 
seek to conserve tribal institutions, they inevitably 
produce some amount of disintegration. 

They rule according to native law except where 
this is repugnant to European morality. White 
men in Africa find it impossible to live cheek by 
jowl with human sacrifices, cannibalism and other 
barbarous practices, without attempting intervention. 
They do intervene, and rightly so, often with great 
sternness. Sir Hugh Clifford has stated that 
between the beginning of August, 1919, and the end 
of December, 1922, no fewer than 675 persons were 
condemned for murder in Nigeria (only 373 were 
actually executed), and that “approximately one- 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE, zog 


third of the murders on this list were committed 
owing to the perpetrators’ belief in witchcraft, 
magic, or in some analogous superstition.” All 
who are conversant with the facts know that, as 
Sir Hugh Clifford states, “ in West Africa, at any 
rate, our primary raison d'Hre is to protect the simple 
African from merciless exploitation and spoliation 
at the hands, not of the unscrupulous European, 
but of his own more sophisticated fellows.”^ 

It is true, and not of West Africa only. I do 
not think the African is by nature any more cruel 
than other people ; but, with all our sympathy 
with his stumbling efforts in matters of faith, we 
cannot but admit that his religion (what Sir Hugh 
calls “superstition ”) leads him into many ruthless 
practices. Nobody with the slightest knowledge 
of the voluminous literature on the subject can 
doubt that fact. 

I will content myself with one illustration out 
of hundreds that might be given. Mr. Amaury 
Talbot, a Government official in Nigeria, describes 
the doings of a native society devoted to Ekong, 
the War God, and the sacrifice offered to him. 

“ Once arrived in the sacred enclosure, the unfortunate 
victim was given over into the hands of the priest. So 
soon as she saw the place, she knew that there was no 
hope for her. The apathy of despair, which is so peculiarly 
the heritage of black races, descended and enveloped her. 
Tearless, or with silent tears slow-falling, she moved toward 
the priest, unresisting always, since of what use to struggle 
when relentless Fate has seized and holds one fast ? About 
her round throat — for only young and beautiful women 

* Blackwood' s Magazine, June, 1923. 

P 


210 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


might be offered— a cord was flung and tightly drawn, so 
that she died by strangulation. No blood might flow, for 
this was a warriors’ society and the victim was offered to the 
war god that he might rejoice in her agony and accept it 
as the price of his aid to the youth who to-day entered 
the ranks of fighters, so that no drop of the latter’s blood 
need be shed to appease the thirst of the deity. 

What humane government could do other than 
stop such abominations ? But to intervene is to 
aim a blow at native religion which is the cement and 
foundation of native society. Such are the horns of 
the dilemma upon which the Government is impaled ! 

Governments set forth proclamations for the 
suppression of witchcraft, and, strange as it may 
seem, hardly anything they do causes greater 
resentment among the Natives. A prominent native 
chief said to me one day : “You white men are 
destroying the community. The warlocks and 
witches are exultant and doing just as they please, 
because they know we can no longer kill them as 
we used to do.” Out of our ignorance we have 
legislated against witch-doctors (or diviners) thinking 
them to be the people who bewitch their fellows, 
whereas it is they who seek out and denounce 
the warlocks and witches. In the native mind 
this is as if we legislated against detectives with 
the aim of stopping murder We Europeans no 
longer believe in witchcraft, but Africans do most 
sincerely believe in it — and there is something to 

1 P. Amaury Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria (1923), p. 179. 

* See the sensible remarks made on this subject by Frank FI. 
Melland, a magistrate of Northern Rhodesia, in his In Witch- 
bound Africa (1923), p. 198. Captain Dale and I pointed out 
this fallacy in The Ila-Speaking Peoples (1920), Vol. II, p. 90. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 21 1 


be said in support of their belief. We count as 
“ murder ” what they regard as ridding the 
community of dangerous criminals. The English 
law holds that if a person commits a crime under a 
delusion, the question to be decided is whether, if 
the delusion were true, it would justify the crime. 
If there is such a thing as witchcraft, then the 
Africans cannot be blamed for finding out and 
destroying the warlock and witch — though they 
may be rightly blamed for the cruel ways of detecting 
and killing them. They do not understand our 
British law which brands this act as murder, any 
more than we should understand the arraignment 
of the Lord Chief Justice and the police for murder- 
ing a Bill Sykes who was hanged by the neck till he 
was dead. As Sir Hugh Clifford says in the course 
of his article in Blackwood’s, already quoted, the 
intensity and the sincerity of the unsophisticated 
Nigerian’s (let us say, African’s) belief “ in the 
constant intrusion of the supernatural into the affairs 
of everyday life has to be taken into consideration 
when we are attempting to assess the guilt of persons 
who, while they have wilfully caused the death of one 
or more of their fellows, regard themselves as having 
acted in the most commonsense or even in the most 
exemplary manner.” This remark applies not only 
to cases of witchcraft but also to the killing of 
infants that are regarded as ill-omens. To abolish 
such criminal practices proclamations are not 
enough — it is necessary to go to the root of the 
matter and replace b}^ better beliefs the belief 
which prompts them. 


212 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


When the power of capital punishment is trans- 
ferred from the African Chief-in-council to the 
European judge, the prestige of the chief inevitably 
suffers. There is necessity for this, but the conse- 
quences to the chief in the eyes of the people are 
patent. Then, again, the chief is held responsible 
for the good conduct of the community over which 
he rules. It may happen that this man, who is 
so sacrosanct in the estimation of the people, is 
arrested and committed to prison — perhaps he is 
flogged — and this, to say the very least, does not 
augment his prestige. In some parts of Africa it 
is not unknown that the Natives elect a secondary 
chief, to act the part of whipping-boy when one is 
required ; they keep the real chief secret, so as to 
avoid any offence against his sacred person. Even 
when the government fully respects the chief’s 
person, and rules the people through him, appeal 
is allowed from his court to that of the magistrate, 
or cases may be taken direct to this official. This 
is necessary in order to guard against cruel, despotic 
acts on the chief’s part, but the dignity of the chief 
in the eyes of his people cannot but be lowered 
thereby. We Britons rightly pride ourselves upon 
our just administration of the law, yet it cannot be 
doubted that greater justice is sometimes done by 
the Chief sitting in council, who is fully acquainted 
with the wiles of native suitors, than by the magis- 
trate who is hampered by the rules of evidence. 

Where Governments use the chiefs as a medium 
for calling out compulsory labour, which is hated 
by the men, their prestige is lowered further. 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 213 


Governments introduce another innovation when 
they compel the people individually to pay taxes. 
For Africans to give tribute to their chiefs is one 
thing — for them to pay tax to a higher and alien 
authority is another. The taxpayer regards himself 
as a somebody and in proportion as he looks beyond 
his chief to others his estimation for the head of 
his community diminishes. It is not surprising to 
learn that some chiefs object to the poll-tax on 
the ground that it leads to the insubordination of 
their people. It would be better to levy a corporate 
tax on the community, paid through the chief. 

Other illustrations might be given to show that 
when European government is introduced, native 
-society cannot remain where it was — some 
disintegration always follows. Native society being 
founded on religious belief, any interference with 
its outward structure reacts upon the inward 
sentiment, and any injury to religious belief and 
the traditional custom has deleterious effects upon 
morals. The whole structure hangs together as 
one piece ; one part cannot be touched without 
disturbing the whole. ^ 


VII. 

In short, what w'e are witnessing in Africa under 
the pressure of the European invaders is the rapid 
break-up of society. The African is being hurried 
out of his old collectivistic society into individualism. 

I shall show in Chapter XI that Christianit\% as hitherto 
taught, has often co-operated in these disintegrative acti%’ities. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


ii4 

All peoples have to pass that way. The British 
peoples have not been exempt from this law. The 
pendulum swings to the tune of the Hegelian logic : 
thesis, collectivism ; antithesis, individualism. The 
synthesis has not yet been found in a system which 
does equal justice to the social and self-regarding 
instincts of man. The Africans have hitherto 
lived in the collectivistic stage : the community 
has been the unit ; every individual interest has 
been subordinate to the general welfare. In many 
directions this excites our admiration — even en\y. 
There is a solidarity that civilized communities 
find it hard to attain. The corporate sentiment 
that trades unions create among their members is 
but a faint reflection of the brotherhood found 
within the African’s clan. The Africans have, it 
is true, to pay heavily for their collectivism, in the 
injustice done to personal strivings and aspirations ; 
just as we pay heavily for our individualism, in 
selfishness and greed. 

The invasion of Africa by Europeans means the 
inoculation of the Africans with the germs of our 
individualism, and not in such minute doses as are 
administered with the hypodermic syringe : we 

are administering them with the hose-pipe whose 
stream carries everything before it with a rush. 
Taxes are levied upon and paid by individuals. 
Wages are paid to individuals. When crime is 
committed it is the single person and not the clan 
that expiates it. The missionary seeks the con- 
version of individuals and teaches that every man 
and woman is personally responsible to God. In 


DISINTEGRATION OF AFRICAN SOCIAL LIFE. 215 


more advanced communities Africans are led by 
European example to demand the electoral franchise 
and individual tenure of land. 

Some acute observers, such as Dr. Leys^, believe 
it futile and mischievous to attempt to revive the 
African’s tribalism where it has decayed. Yet 
where it exists it should be jealously safeguarded 
in the moral interests of the natives. Every care 
should be taken to strengthen the tribal bond and 
to avoid breaking down the collectivistic structure 
prematurely. It may be that the Africans must 
pass out of the stage where the individual counts 
for little or nothing, into the stage where he is 
master of his own fate and captain of his own soul. 
Certainly the change may remove many fetters upon 
his intellect. We would fain hope that he might 
attain the synthesis wherein his present tribal 
virtues would be united to personal initiative and 
responsibility. At present all is confusion. The 
danger is that in the process of social revolution he 
should lose his old moral restraints and gain no 
others. The old restraints came, if you wish, of 
superstition ; but they did control him from within ; it 
will be no real gain to substitute dread of the gallows 
in the place of fear of the wrath of his ancestors. 
Dread of the gallows is a much feebler control 
than the old beliefs in ghosts and mana. A man 
may hope by sheer cunning to escape hanging : 
the old sanction of the curse was ineluctable. 
Individualism depends for its success upon a high 
standard of righteousness personally accepted ; a 

^ Kenya, p, 299. 


2I6 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


man must feel he is responsible to something or 
somebody. To depart from such control as the 
tribe exerts and not to find a higher control spells 
disaster. 

This chapter may be summed up in the words 
of a highly placed and experienced administrator : — 

“ We are undeniably introducing profound changes and 
tearing up deep-rooted ideas, at a most precipitate rate ; 
and with such far-reaching changes must come a new 
orientation for the native outlook. As Gustav le Bon says : 
‘ When a faith ends, a revolution begins ; it is a dangerous 
thing to destroy one belief without substituting another for 
it.”* 

“ What aileth thee ? ” asked the children of 
Dan when Micah, from whose house they had taken 
the teraphim, overtook them ; “ What aileth 

thee ? ” And Micah replied, “ Ye have taken 
away my gods which I made . , . and what have 
I more ? and how then say ye unto me, What 
aileth thee ? ” 

It is a sorry business to strip a poor man of his 
gods, if we do not give him God in exchange. 

’ " Les revolutions qui commencent sont en r6alite des croy- 
ances qui finissent.” 

* Major G. St. J. Orde Browne, The Vanishing Tribes of 
Kenya (1925), p. 261. 


CHAPTER IX. 


Wherein an Attempt is made to Estimate the 
VALUE OF Islam to the African. 

I. 

I F we do not give him God in exchange. 

African paganism is doomed to decay and 
extinction. If they are to remain religious the 
only possible alternative open to the Africans is to 
choose between Islam and Christianity, both of 
which offer them a knowledge of God. 

The two religions are alike in their claim to 
universality. Modem Muslims, at least Muslims of 
the Ahmadiya school, whose head-quarters in England 
are at Woking, are in no doubt as to the place 
Islam as based on the Qur’an should take in the 
world. “ The Holy Qur’an was not meant for one 
people or one age, and accordingly the scope of 
its moral teachings is as wide as humanity itself. 
It is the Book which offers guidance to all men in 
all conditions of life, to the ignorant savage as 
well as to the wise philosopher, to the man of 
business as well as to the recluse, to the rich as 
well as to the poor.”^ While the first little band 

‘ Muh.^mmad Ali, Preface to The Holy Qur'dn (1917), p. xiv. 


2I8 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


of his followers was suffering severe persecution, 
and there seemed little hope that the Faith would 
prove acceptable even to Arabians, Muhammad 
sustained the drooping spirits with the promise : 
“ We will soon show them our signs in remote 
regions and among their own people, until it will 
become quite clear to them that it is the truth.” ^ 
This is taken by Muslims to mean that Islam shall 
spread to the ends of the earth. They claim to 
have a Gospel for the African. 

Within ten years of Muhammad’s death his 
followers invaded Egypt (a.d. 640). Twenty years 
later, Ukba Ben Nafa spurred his horse into the 
Atlantic, crying : “ By the great God, if I were 
not stopped by this raging sea I would go on to 
the nations of the West, preaching the Unity of 
Thy name and putting to the sword those that 
would not submit.” By a.d. 708 North Africa was 
definitely (though not finally, we believe) won for 
Islam. The Christian Church in the coastlands — 
the Church of Tertullian and Augustine, which 
numbered its bishops by hundreds, but which was 
never a truly indigenous Church — was swept away. 
The superficially Christianized Berber population 
became Muslim. Only in Egypt did the Church 
survive. In the course of centuries Islam spread 
from the Mediterranean littoral southwards across 
the Sahara into the regions of the Senegal and 
Niger. It ascended the Nile and crossed the Sudan 
to Lake Chad. By the eleventh century it was 

* Qur'dn, XLI, 53. “ remote regions," or extremities ; “ their 

own people,” i.e., Arabians. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


219 


planted firmly within three hundred miles of the 
coast of Guinea. Its more southerly progress was 
stopped, in some degree, by the tsetse fly, which 
was inimical to the horses and cattle of the invaders ; 
partly the arrest was due to the unhealthy climate 
of the coastal regions ; and partly to the valiant 
opposition of some of the pagan tribes. In later 
years, the onward march was deliberately halted, 
lest the pagans should become converted and there- 
fore immune, by Islamic principles, to slave-raiding. 

The region of North Africa lying between the 
Mediterranean and the Sudan, the land of the blacks, 
was inhabited by various peoples of Caucasian 
type — Berbers (akin to the Iberians of Spain), and 
Hamites (allied to the Semites) — and by Negroids. 
These were to a large extent Islamized by the 
Arabs. The Muslims built up great states based 
upon pre-existing kingdoms founded by Negroes. 
For a thousand years empire succeeded empire, 
culminating in that of the Fulani, which was 
finally conquered by the British and French in 
our own days. A civilization was created of an 
astonishing type — at one time more advanced than 
anything then to be found in northern Europe. 
Firearms were in use while Englishmen were still 
fighting with the bow and arrow. The kings 
went on pilgrimage to Mecca — one of them, it is 
said, accompanied by a retinue of 60,000 persons 
and furnished with gold to the value of a million 
sterling. Immense caravans crossed the desert 
annually to and from Egypt — it is on record that 
one of these was made up of 12,000 camels, bearing 


220 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


1,600 tons of merchandise. Important schools of 
learning were established, and extensive libraries. 
There was a time when black poets were welcomed 
at the court of Cordova, and the University of 
Timbuktu exchanged knowledge with the Uni- 
versities of Spain. 1 This, of course, was when 
the Moors were in possession of Andalusia. Their 
expulsion and subsequent invasion of the Sudan had 
an important influence upon the Islamic culture in 
these regions. But the astonishing civilization 
created by Muslims was ultimately destroyed by 
Muslims, and when Europeans invaded the country 
it had fallen into irretrievable decay. 

In East Africa there was never such an 
efflorescence of Islamic culture as in the north. 
Arab voyagers sailed down the coast and founded 
settlements at Mombasa, Zanzibar, and Sofala. It 
is said that they supplied the Portuguese with a 
map which revealed the possibility of doubling the 
Cape of Good Hope. From the coast they 
penetrated inland. The early European explorers 
found Arab traders settled on the shores of the 
great lakes. Stanley met them in Uganda, where 
they were endeavouring to convert the king and 
people. 

In the southernmost part of Africa Islam was 
introduced originally through the action of the 
governments in importing Orientals. When in 1654 
the Dutch East India Company established a penal 

1 Lady Lugard, A Tropical Dependency, p. 345. This book 
contains the best account I know of the Islamic culture in 
North Africa. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


221 


settlement at the Cape, they sent thither convicts 
from East Indies who were Muslims. These men 
married coloured women who accepted Islam, and 
a community was formed that has grown steadily 
until there are now 24,513 Muslims in the Cape 
Province. Some of the original exiles were men of 
learning and sanctity — their graves are now centres 
of pilgrimage. In 1925 Dr. Zwemer found a school 
of 400 children studying Arabic in Cape Town. 
Islamic newspapers and literature in Afrikaans 
and native languages issue from the press and 
evidently form part of a determined propaganda 
to win the South African Bantu for Islam. Into 
Natal Islam entered when Indians were imported 
about i860 to work on the sugar plantations. 
They have remained in considerable numbers and 
by marrying Bantu women have built up Islamic 
communities. In Natal the Muslims number 17,146. 
Labourers, small traders and skilled artisans have 
carried Islam from the coast into the Transvaal and 
Rhodesia. Even in Basutoland the last Census 
reported 102 Muslims. “ With the Indian trader, 
who is found all over Southern Nyasaland and 
Portuguese territory, Islam is steadily gaining 
ground ever5Avhere.”^ 

Several attempts have been made to estimate 
the number of Muslims in Africa. Dr. Zwemer, in 
1923, calculated that of 234,814,989 Muslims in 
the world, 59,444,397 were in Africa. As he puts 
the total population of Africa at 125,806,771, it is 

1 Dr. S. M. Zwemer, Islam in South Africa, I.R.M., October, 

1925- 


222 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


evident that he thinks nearly half the Africans 
have adopted Islam. Other authorities give a 
lower estimate. Captain Andre A for example, 
reckons 3,875,073 Muslims in French West Africa 
out of a total population of 12,283,216, where 
Dr. Zwemer counts 6,716,000 Muslims. The Census 
of Northern Nigeria shows 67 per cent. Muslims, 
and 33 per cent. Animists. 

It is difficult to say what progress Islam is now 
making. Among some West African tribes, 
undoubtedly, the progress is rapid, but there are 
many Negroes, principally in the forest regions, 
who have always opposed Islam and among these 
the Muslims make little or no headway. In other 
tribes advance is slow. Even among the Hausas in 
the French Niger colony. Captain Andre is inclined 
to compute a majority of pagans. In Dahomey 
he reckons less than 70,000 Muslims where Dr. 
Zwemer estimated 294,000. It is reported from 
British Cameroons that Islam is not gaining ground. 
Speaking of Islam in East Africa Dr. Norman Leys 
says : “ The always feeble early missionary 
endeavours of its introducers have quite ceased. 
Its situation and character in East Africa suggest 
a last backwash of some already strongly ebbing 
tide.” He says again : “ In East Africa Islam 
shows no sign of growth — in knowledge or in zeal, 
or perhaps even in numbers. It will probably follow 
tribalism and much else beside into a past that 
men happily forget, as those new circumstances 


* Capixaine P. J. Andr6, L’islam noir (1924). 


ISLAM IN AFP I C A. 


223 


to which it once was so peculiarly fitted give place 
to newer.” 1 

Islam has grown in Africa (i) by means of violent 
conquest, (2) by pacific propaganda, (3) by com- 
mercial influence, (4) by intermarriage. The opening 
up of the continent has in some ways helped it. 
In the old days communication between 
Mediterranean countries and the Sudan was by 
means of caravans, and entailed long journeys 
across the desert : now'^ Muslim traders travel by 
steamship round the coast and pursue their way 
inland by railway. In consequence their pow'^er 
on the African coast has greatly augmented, but 
against this we must place the fact that the interior 
commercial centres have declined in a corresponding 
degree. Islam has also gained somewhat because 
of the support it has received from the British 
Government, w^hich, while theoretically neutral to 
religion, yet follow^s Roman precedent in supporting 
the local cult as a means of preserving order. At 
the Gordon College in Khartum, for example, 
Islam is enthroned ; the only Bible Dr. Zwemer 
could discover there was General Gordon’s preserved 
in a glass case. Religious teachers from the 
indigenous village schools are trained in Government 
institutions. 2 At the same time, the extension of 
European rule has made it impossible for Muslims 
to carry on the time-honoured propaganda of the 
sword. The complete Islamic system is impracticable 
under European rule — its criminal law, e.g., must 

‘ Norman Leys, Kenya, pp. 263, 268. 

* Report on the Sudan, 1923, Cmd. 2281, p. 40. 


224 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


be modified. The prestige once enjoyed by Muslim 
conquerors is theirs no longer, and instances are 
known of tribes reverting to paganism since British 
rule has been established. 

It must also be said that there is an almost 
unanimous opinion among qualified observers that 
Islam with the African is often only skin-deep. 
Mr. Ingrams, an Assistant District Commissioner 
in the Zanzibar Protectorate states — “ . . . the 
veneer of Islam is but a flimsy veil for the simpler 
beliefs of the Africans . . . All that Islam does 
for the primitive African native, when it is so little 
understood as in Zanzibar, is to lend itself to the 
more efficient (in the native mind) practice of magic. 
Even receipts for killing one’s enemy are headed 
‘ In the Name of God the Merciful, the Com- 
passionate.’ Circumcision, the taboo on animal 
food containing blood, prayers, a more or less 
perfunctory observance of Ramadan, the adoption 
of Muslim names and dress — ^these may be the only 
marks of the African Muslim. The old dread of 
demons persists, together with the belief in the 
efficacy of charms,^ and the morals remain as 
pagan as ever. Mr. Meek has recently portrayed 
the paganized Islam of Northern Nigeria. “ Though 
there are many learned Muslims in Northern Nigeria 
inspired with the spirit of true religion, the general 
mass of the followers of the Prophet are like children 
imitating without comprehending, and believing 

* Report of the Phelps-Stokes Commission : Education in 
East Africa (1925), p. 222. 

’ See Article on Charms and Amulets (Muhammadan) in 
Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, by Cana de Vaux, Vol. III. 


ISLAM h\- AFRICA. 


2^5 


that the public observance of prescribed formulae 
raises them in the e 5 ^es of Allah, as it does in those 
of their fellow-men. Their religious outlook is 
little wider than that of the pagans they despise . . . 
Thus on the spiritual side Islam in Nigeria is but 
a poor imitation of the lofty religion of the 
Prophet.” 1 


II. 

I heard Dr. Aggrey declare passionately that no 
second-rate religion is good enough for Africans ; 
they must have the best. The English people, 
at any rate, have no hesitation about what is best. 
Some few of them have embraced Islam, but the 
great majority, even though they may not practise 
the Christian ethic, would vote for Christianity 
rather than for Islam. But there are some who 
would say that while Christianitj^ is best for 
Europeans, Islam is the best for Africans, for it is 
more suited to their nature than Christianity. 
What must be said about this ? Let us start by 
saying all that can be said in favour of Islam. 

It must be recognized that there is strength and 
a power of attraction in Islam. That so large a 
proportion of Africans have accepted this religion 
is sufficient proof. It is not satisfactory to account 
for this acceptance on the ground that Africans 
have been compelled to embrace Islam, for this is 
not true of the majorit}^. Nor is it sufficient to 

1 C. K. Meek, The Northern Tiibes of Nigeria {1925), Yol. II, 
PP- 4. 5- 


Q 


226 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


say that Islam gains adherents by pandering to 
their sensual passions. Nor can we state that the 
Africans choose Islam because they have no other 
alternative to their unsatisfying pagan faith : in 
Zanzibar the Natives have had the opportunity of 
comparing Christianity and Islam during sixty 
years, and they remain Muslims for the most 
part. 

The strength of Islam lies in the force of conviction 
it inspires. The Muslim believes in God. Day by 
day the impressive declaration of faith is sounded 
abroad in the call to prayer : AUah-ii Akhar. Ash- 
hadu al-la-ilaha ill- Allah ... La ilaha ill- Allah. 
“ Allah is the greatest. I bear witness that nothing 
deserves to be worshipped but Allah. There is no 
god but Allah ! ” Christian theologians may point 
to deficiencies in the Islamic conception of God, 
but Africans are not theologians. The trend of 
their own thought is towards monotheism, and the 
confident assertion by Muslims that they worship 
the one God, makes a very strong appeal. The 
pagan African believes in and practises prayer. 
When he sees the Muslim break off from whatever 
he is doing when the hour for prayer arrives, and 
perform his devotions publicly with every mark of 
earnest conviction, he is deepl}’' impressed. More- 
over, as some one has said, the African seems to be 
so made as to worship a book. It comes as a new 
thing to him, but it is not strange to his mind 
that a material object can convey a message from 
the unseen world — he is familiar with the huckle- 
bones and other implements used by his diviners. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


227 

And when the Muslim declares that his sacred 
book, the Qur’an, contains the actual words of 
God and is an infallible revelation of God’s will, 
then again he is impressed and attracted. That 
the Qur’an is written in a language he cannot 
understand adds to its mystery and power over his 
untutored mind. 

Moreover, Islam is propagated in Africa, not by 
strange white men who practice alien social customs, 
but by men of the African’s own colour (or nearly 
so), and, if of manifestly higher grade of civilization, 
not removed to an impossible distance as the 
European is. There is not a gap between the 
Muslim missionary, be he trader or preacher, and 
the African, such as yawns between the Christian 
missionary and the African. The ordinary Muslim 
has the same implicit belief in magic as the African 
pagan ; his jinns are not strange creatures — the 
African knows plenty of the same species. The 
rhythmic dancing and barbaric music of the 
corybantic Dervishes, who have done so much to 
spread Islam in Africa, are on the same plane as 
the African’s own practices — it is no new thing to 
him that divine truth, messages from the unseen, 
are conveyed through trance. 

On the social side, Islam appeals to the African 
through its offer of brotherhood — which again the 
African understands readily. Mr. E. D. Morel 
says that Islam “ takes the Negi'o by the hand and 
gives him equality with all men. From the day 
the pagan adopts Islam, no Semite Muslim can 
claim racial superiority over him. Islam to the 

Q 2 


2’S 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Negro is the stepping stone to a higher conception 
of existence, inspiring in his breast confidence in 
his own destiny, imbuing his spirit with a robust 
faith in himself and in his race.”^ Muhammad 
Ali claims that Islam abolishes all invidious class 
distinctions. It lays down the basis of a vast 
brotherhood in which all men and women — to 
whatever tribe or nation or caste they may belong 
and whatever be their profession or rank in societjg 
the wealthy and the poor, — have equal rights and in 
Avhich no one can trample upon the right of his 
brother. He quotes a saying of the Prophet which 
lays down the strict rule of brotherhood : “No one 
of you is a believer in God unless he loves for his 
brother what he loves for himself.” ^ No doubt 
certain reservations have to be made. Within the 
fold brotheiiiness may reign, but all without are 
Kafirs, the Muslim’s legitimate pre 5 c Love of the 
brotherhood accompanies and fosters hatred for 
others, and spiritual pride. As Sir Frederick Lugard 
says : “ Islam as a militant creed which teaches 
contempt for those who are not its votaries, panders 
to the weakness of the African character — self- 
conceit and vanity. ”3 

The fact that Muhammad allowed slavery and 
that Muslims have always practised slave-raiding 
and slave-trading, demonstrates the limitation in 
the Islamic conception of brotherhood. To this 

1 Affairs of West Africa (1902), p. 230. 

’ Preface to The Holy Qur'dti, p. xv. 

’ The Dual Mandate, p. 77. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


229 


day the Mecca pilgrimage, sacred duty though it be, 
is made the occasion and means of traffic in slaves. 
IMoreover, brotherhood has never prevented intestine 
warfare between rival Islamic sects. Yet when all 
these limitations are recognized, we cannot deny 
that the brotherhood of i\Iuslims is a fact. WTien 
the Prince of Wales visited West Africa he received 
the Sacrament at the hands of a negro clergyman 
and the fact was distinctive enough to be reported 
in the newspapers. Numbers of Englishmen, who 
account themselves good Christians, would never 
dream of acknowledging in this way their fellowship 
with black-skinned Christians. Muslims make no 
such distinctions. Arab and Negro and Berber and 
Hindu are brothers in the faith and not only join 
in common worship, but in the affairs of everyday 
life freely help each other. “ The ideal of a league 
of human races has indeed been approached by 
the Moslem community more nearly than by any 
other.” ^ 

Another thing to be said for Islam is that it is 
a theocracy. It draws no distinction between 
Church and State, between secular and religious. 


1 C. S. Hurgron’je, in The Moslem World of To-day (1925), 
p. 90. 

“ This solidarity was a great attraction for the conquered 
nations, and it was the desire to profit by it that brought over 
most of the recruits to Islam. Every convert at once enjo5'ed 
all the privileges of a Jlusulman : a foreigner and an enemy 
the day before, he became by simple conv^ersion an equal and 
a brother. ‘ Know,’ said Mahomet in his last sermon at Mecca, 
‘ know that you are all equal among yourselves and that you 
form a family of brothers.’ ” — .'Vkdr^ Servier, Islam and 
Psychology of the Musnlman (1924), pp. 71, 72, 


230 


THE GOLDEN STO'OL. 


The Qur’an embodies both religious precepts and 
legal decrees. In Sir Frederick Fugard’s opinion, 
the great strength of Islam, “ lies in the fact that 
it combines a social code with simple religious 
forms and is thus interwoven with the daily life 
of its followers.” 1 It is a great socio-religious 
system covering the whole life of the individual 
from birth to death. This kind of thing is alien 
to a modern European and may even appear to 
him to be an intolerable spiritual tyranny, but it 
appeals to the African because he too, in his pagan 
life, makes no distinction between the religious and 
the secular, and sometimes finds it difficult to 
understand why the functions of missionary and 
magistrate should be in the hands of separate 
individuals. 

Islam has thus an integrative power. The 
African tribal life dissolves under the pressure of 
European civilization, but when the tribesmen 
embrace Islam they are introduced into a great 
system of religion and ethics, and are given new 
moral sanctions in the place of those which they 
have outgrown. In West Africa the Muslims 
bound scattered tribes into powerful kingdoms in 
which Negroes took high positions. Of islamized 
Africans, Mr. Morel states “ their moral and spiritual 
well-being increased by leaps and bounds and their 
political and social life took an altogether higher 
level. He concedes that in its relation to mankind 
as a whole, Islam may be sterile and make for 

1 op. cit., p. 77. 

^Affairs of West Africa, p. 212. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


231 


stagnancy, but denies that it is so in West Africa. 
It gives the Negro (he declares) an energy, a dignity, 
a self-respect he has not known before. Mr. Meek 
confirms this so far as its political, social and 
economic aspects are concerned. 

“ Islam has brought civilization to barbarous tribes. 
It has converted isolated pagan groups into nations ; it 
has made commerce with the outside world possible . . . 
it has broadened the outlook, raised the standard of living 
by creating a higher social atmosphere, and has conferred 
on its followers dignity, self-respect, and respect for others. 
The intellectual and political superiority of the Muslim 
communities is due chiefly to their religion. Islam intro- 
duced the art of reading and writing, and by the prohibition 
of the use of alcohol, of cannibaUsm, blood revenge and 
other barbarous practices, it has enabled the Sudanese 

‘ Negro to become a citizen of the world. 

It may be said that Christian observers have done 
ample justice to the rich fruits of personal character 
produced by Islam. Thus Dr. David M. Kay* 
speaks of the patience and diligence of the Muslim 
craftsman. 

“ Kindness to animals, horses, donkeys, dogs, pigeons, 
is required by religion, and has become innate among 
Moslems.^ . . . The ablutions prescribed before prayer 
have inspired cleanliness in the humblest houses and care 
in preparation of food. The theory of polygamy, which 
diverges so strongly from Christian feeling, provides all 
women with family protection ; and the moral degradation 
of great European cities has no equivalent among Moslem 

1 Op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 4, 5. 

® The Semitic Religions (1923), pp. 168, 170. Dr. Kay resided 
in Constantinople for five years and spent four years with an 
army fighting against the Turks and their allies. 

* I fancy the donkeys in Tangier might have something to 
say about this. — E. W. S. 


232 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


women. Judged by its fruits, Islam can claim a power 
over its adherents and a pervasive influence on their lives 
which contemporary systems attain only among their most 
zealous groups.” 

To this may be added what Canon \V. H. T. 
Gairdner says : 

” A steady world-view, patience and resignation ; respect 
for parents and the aged ; love of children ; benevolence 
to the poor and infirm and insane ; kindness to domestic 
slaves and to beasts ; fidelity to a rule of duty ; these and 
other virtues when found may fairly be credited to Islam ; 
and for their absence, if they are not found, Islam could 
not fairly be blamed."^ 

A word more must be said on two points. First, 
as regards intoxicating liquors. We know the 
havoc that has been wrought by the drink-traffic 
in Africa and the strenuous efforts made by inter- 
national conferences and national governments to 
stop it. Adherents of Islam may well claim that 
if they, and not Christians, had dominated African 
commerce the Africans would have escaped this 
scourge at least. Muhammad laid down no law on 
the subject, but, as Dr. Kay states, by appealing 
in the name of Allah to the voluntary choice of his 
adherents, he succeeded where many zealous 
agencies have failed — he founded a society of total 
abstainers, numbered by scores of millions and 
lasting over a thousand years.® 

1 Equally and more experienced observers deny this. 

“ The Rebuke of Islam (1920), pp. 139, 140. 

® Op. cit., pp. 166, 167. Yet, according to statements made 
by Muslims to the Committee of Inquiry into the Liquor Trade 
in Southern Nigeria (1908) followers of Muhammad not only 
drank spirits, but traded in them. " An ordinary Muham- 
madan,” said one Muslim, " may take spirits, but the head- 
man is forbidden ; they call him the high priest.” — Mimiles, p. 46. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


233 


The other subject that must be mentioned is 
polygamy. Of the four causes assigned by Mr. E. D. 
Morel for the rapid islamization of Africa, as con- 
trasted with the “ failure ” of Christianity, one is 
that Islam recognizes, as Christianity refuses to 
recognize, that “ the circumstances which regulate 
certain natural laws vary with climatic consider- 
ations and racial idiosyncrasies.” In other words, 
Islam legalizes polygamy, while the Christian 
Church discountenances it, and European govern- 
ments, by making taxation fall heavier on the 
polygamist than on the monogamist, discourage it. 
Mr. j\Iorel is not alone in arguing that polygamy 
is a necessary institution on physical grounds for 
the Negro in Africa. Dr. Blyden goes so far as 
to say that “ owing to the exhausting climatic 
conditions the life and perpetuity of the population 
depend upon polygamy.” The question need not 
be discussed further at this point. But it must be 
said that experience warrants the statement that 
the monogamist Christian Africans rear as large or 
larger and more healthy families than the average 
polygamists. Unquestionably, however, the Africans, 
and particularly African women, cling to polygamy, 
and by recognizing it and sanctioning it by his own 
practice, Muhammad prepared unconsciously for 
an acceptance of his religion. 

Neither Christianity nor Islam is indigenous to 
Africa. Islam is no more an African religion than 
Christianity is a European religion. They both 
had their origin among Semites. The Jews had 
undergone a long preparation for Christianity 


234 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


through the preaching of the prophets. The Arabs 
had no such training. They had to some extent 
come in contact with their more religiously advanced 
fellow-Semites and Muhammad drew much of his 
teaching from Jew and Christian. But the Arabs 
were idolaters and while Muhammad converted 
them to the worship of one God, both he and his 
converts retained much of the primitive Semitic 
animism. The ancient Meccan fetish — the black 
stone of the Ka’aba — remains enshrined to this 
day in the Islamic Holy of Holies and is kissed by 
the devout pilgrims. As Islam swept over other 
lands it absorbed something of existing religions — 
the confluence of Zoroastrianism and Islam, for 
example, formed the starting point of Sufism, the 
mystical sect of Islam. ^ When it entered Africa 
Islam was undoubtedly strongly influenced by the 
Christianity it swept away ; it imbibed the Berber 
culture which was largely Christian. In contact 
with the Negro, Islam found itself more on a level 
with Arabian animism : it was perfectly easy and 
natural for it to amalgamate with the African 
religion and culture. It appealed then, as now, to 
the African because it was so near to them. It 
demanded no violent wrench from the past. It 
brought the African the surer knowledge of God 
which he had been groping for ; it taught him new 
forms of prayer, it gave him a book (which he could 
not understand), and some simple ritual, added 
sundry taboos, brought him into a great brother- 

1 R. P. Masani, The Conference of the Birds, a Sufi Allegory 
(1924), p. 46. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


235 


hood, clothed him, and left him his traditional 
customs and beliefs otherwise untouched. In doing 
this it undoubtedly conferred some benefit upon 
him. 


III. 

But the question remains, is Islam the best 
religion for the African ? It may be good, but the 
good is sometimes the enemy of the best. The 
endeavour has been made to S3.y everything possible 
in its favour. There is something to be said on 
the other side. 

Here to begin with, is a statement made by one 
who knows Africa as few men know it, and who 
would not call himself an orthodox Christian. Sir 
Harry Johnston sums up a discussion in this way : 

" In short, judged by the test of output in the way of 
science and art, literature, material well-being, control of 
disease, sexual morality, public works, subdual of recalci- 
trant nature, can any comparison be sustained between 
the countries professing the Christian religion or governed 
by Christian nations, and the lands which still remain 
more or less independent under the sway of Muhammadan 
rulers ? On these lines is there any sustainable plea of 
equality between Hungary and European Turkey, Spain 
and Morocco, Greece and Asia Minor, Italy and Tripoli, 
Afghanistan and British India, modern Persia and modern 
Caucasia ? The language of Christian Magyars and that 
of the Muhammadan Turks are nearly related in origin, 
and the Magyars and Turks came from the same ethnic 
stock ; but in the course of history one became Christian 
and the other Muhammadan. Can any impartial critic 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


23G 


maiataia that the two peoples at the present day arc on 
the same level of civilization, or place alongside Hungarian 
achievements in art, music, architectTire, literature, bio- 
logical science, engineering and political government similar 
achievements on the part of Turkey ? 

In Africa a tribe, under the influence of Islam, 
may take a step forward, but it is the last they 
take and there they remain. “ A striking unity 
marks the accounts of those who from Sierra Leone 
to Zanzibar describe to us the effect of Islam on 
the Negro. Everywhere one finds that a rise is 
spoken of to a certain level ; a dead stop at that 
level — a low one after all ; a hardening ; and then 
the inner deterioration that comes to those who, 
contented with a low level, become the enemies 
of a higher one.”^ 

In fact, the spiritual deterioration caused by 
Islam is paralleled by the physical ruin of countries 
invaded by the Arabs. It has been well said that 
they carried with them the desert into the fair 
Mediterranean lands of North Africa. An old 
Arabian writer declared that before the invasion 


Sir H. H. Johnston, Views and Reviews from the outlook 
of an anthropologist (1912), pp. 191, 192. 

- The Rebuke of Islam, p. 154. M. Servier is in agreement 
with these judgments. Islam, he declares, was not a torch, but 
an extinguisher, op. cil., p. 153. 

M. Vignon {op. cit., p. 95) thus sums up his review of Islam 
in Africa ; " Au resume, 1' impression dominante demeure celle- 
ci : les ‘ progres ’ dconomiques ou sociaux que la religion musul- 
mane fera realiser h un peuple autrefois fetichiste, seront assez 
vite atteints. Pendant un temps court, il abandonnera 1’ ^tat 
statique, passera h 1’ etat dynamique, s’ elevant ainsi d’un degre, 
mais bientot . . . le ‘ progres ’ cessera, 1’ dtat statique rdappar- 
^itra.”. 


ISLMI IN AFRICA. 


237 


it was possible, so extended were the forests, to 
travel many days beneath the shade of trees. The 
land was, as Herodotus had described it eight 
centuries before, fertile, well-wooded, well-watered. 
The Romans planted vineyards and orchards, led 
out the water, and drove roads through the country. 
The IMuslims cut down trees, burned the forests, 
neglected the roads. They ruined the countr5x 
^Vhen the French landed in North Africa they 
found famine to be frequent in what had once been 
a granary of Rome — a stagnant land, peopled by 
a stagnant people. 

This stagnation of mind may be traced to the 
Islamic conception of God. Alike for individuals 
and for communities it does matter much, after 
all, what they believe God to be. “ I rfo believe 
in God,” Mark Rutherford protested to Mardon, 
and the atheist’s answer was ; “ There is nothing 
in that statement. What do you believe about 
Him ? — that is the point.” The Muslim believes 
in God and in the Unity of God. He describes God 
as Merciful and Gracious, the Guardian over all, 
the Provider of daily bread. But it is as Power 
that the Muslim usually thinks of Him. He knows 
ninety and nine “ most excellent names ” for God, 
but not one that denotes God as Father. “ In 
Islam the relation of man to God must ever be 
that of a slave, who lacks the freedom and dignity 
of a son.”i The orthodox Muslim denies that God 

1 Dr. Edward Sell (of JiIaclraA), art., "God (Muslim),” 
Encyclopmdia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. VI. M. Vignon 
{op. cil., p. 70, etc.) has much to say of the narcotic character 
of Islam, particularly of its doctrine of predestination. 


238 


THE GOLDEN STOOL ‘ 


can be known, and stigmatizes all inquiries into His 
nature as impious. The All-Powerful is unrestrained 
by any law of holiness, and by the Muslim sin is 
regarded not so much as a breach of moral law 
as a violation of some arbitrary decree. The very 
evident lapses of Muhammad are not looked upon by 
his followers as sins, for he acted under the command 
of God. “ God misleadeth whom He will, and 
whom He will He guideth,” says the Qur’an. Such 
a conception of God does not tend to call forth the 
deep love of the human soul ; “ and, as it retards 
the growth of spiritual life in the individual, so 
also it hinders progress in the community and 
prevents the formation of a national life. A 
practical fatalism settles sooner or later on all 
Muslim communities.”^ 

Another factor in the case is the rigidity of 
orthodox Islam leading to a petrification of doctrine 
and a stabilization of ethics to a standard set up 
in Arabia 1300 years ago. The Qur’an is regarded 
as uncreated and eternal ; even the letters and words 
of the book as written, and the sounds of the uttered 
recitation or reading, are fixed by divine decree. 
Human freewill is denied, and the Will of God, 
which is the all-determining source of change and 
activity, has been revealed finally, once for all, in 
the Book which descended from heaven upon 
Muhammad. The orthodox Muslims — and it is 
these, the Sunnites and the more conservative 
schools, who prevail in Africa — are thus anchored 
in the past. Not the Qur’an only but the inter- 

' Dr. Sell, op. cit., p 302. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


239 


pretations of it by learned doctors are definitive 
and unchangeable. These men, Andre Servier 
declares, have killed any germ of progress in Islam. 
“ The immutability of its institutions has ended in 
moulding individuals and the whole nation. It is 
this that explains how the Moslem nations have 
remained and still remain insensible and even 
hostile to Western civilization.” ^ Of the commen- 
tators and interpretations he says again ; “ They 
have afflicted the brains of all believers with 
irremediable stagnation ; and so long as they are 
in force, those believers will remain incapable of 
progress and civilization.” ^ 

The immobility of Islam is seen in education. 
There are thousands of Koranic schools in Africa, 
but what was said of the 700 such schools in 
Tanganyika may be said of them all : “ The 
educational value of these schools is very slight, as 
pupils are rarely taught anything except the 
repetition of passages from the Koran and com- 
paratively few ever learn to read and write in 
Arabic.”® Mr. Meek states that only three per 
cent, of the Muslims in Northern Nigeria can read 
and write. Wherever more efficient education is 
provided, the Africans (Muslims included) owe it to 
Christian missions and Christian Governments. 
Muslims have never attempted to render their 
Scriptures intelligible to Africans — the only trans- 
lation of the Qur’an into an African language has 

^ op. cit., p. 75. ’ op. cit., p. 201. 

® Report on Tanganyika for 1924 (Colonial No. ii), issued 
by the Colonial Office, p. 60. 


THE golden stool. 


240 

been made by a Christian missionary (Canon 
Godfrey Dale), in order that Christian Afrieans 
might be able to compare it with the New Testament. 
No Christian need ever shrink from placing the 
two books side by side and inviting a judgment. 
“ If the question,” Sir Harry Johnston has said, 
“ could be submitted to the arbitration of an 
international court composed of impartial agnostics 
(many of them nominal Christians, nominal 
Muhammadans, or religionless Japanese), I do not 
hesitate to say that the verdict would be that there 
were very few sentences in the Koran which deserved 
quotation or which shone vdth that striking, con- 
vincing beauty of truth and practical application 
which characterizes — whether we wish to admit it 
or no — so much of the wording of the gospels and 
epistles on which the Christian faith is founded, or 
the Psalms and the prophetical and poetical utter- 
ances gathered together in the Hebrew Bible. 

If Africans want the best, it is not the Qur’an they 
will choose. Christian missionaries give their people 
the Bible, — they make an appeal to the intelligence ; 
they open schools where the pupils’ minds are 
exercised on the greatest of Books, wherein is truth 
for every age and all conditions. 

A further difference between Islam and 
Christianity is seen in their treatment of woman. 
Muhammad undoubtedly did much for the Arabian 
women of his time, but he put them — as Islam has 
kept them — on a very low level. “ There is a 
tradition that Muhammad said he saw hell full of 

1 Views ami Reviews, p. i8S. 


ISLAM IN ALRICA. 


24i 


Women.’* ^ The Qur’an provides a Paradise for 
men, but none for women. Muhammad sanctioned 
polygamy, by precept and example. Pie allowed 
men to divorce their wives, by simply pronouncing 
the formula “ I divorce thee ” three times. In my 
judgment it is correct to say that in many pagan 
African tribes the women occupy a higher place 
than they do in Muslim society. Islam permits 
concubinage with female slaves. And when it is 
said that prostitution is absent and that the standard 
of sexual morality is high, it is well to recall the 
words of Dr. Norman Leys : “In one respect, 
indeed, Islam brings loss, not gain. The sex 
morality of coast people who introduced the faith 
into the interior is almost as low as it can be. . . . 
Unions for life are rare, and few Arab or Swahili 
husbands expect their wives to be faithful. So the 
fact is not surprising that the moral standard in 
matters of sex in Moslem villages is lower than in 
neighbouring pagan villages. Sexual perversions 
are also commoner in them than elsewhere, and 
ceremonial dances are more exclusively orgiastic.”^ 

The easy morality of Islam may appeal to the 
pagan African and even act as an incentive to 
embrace the faith. But as his conscience becomes 
enlightened, he cannot rest there — he will rebel, 
and women will rebel, even as Muslim men and 
women are rebelling to-day in other Islamic 
communities. 

One count that Africans have against Islam is 

* Godfrey Dale, The Contrast between Christianity and 
Muhammadanism (1913), p. 59. ’ Kenya, p. 261. 

R 


243 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


its sanction of slavery. It is true that the hands 
of Christians — both nominal and practising — are 
not clean in this matter. But (whatever some 
Christians may have alleged to the contrary) 
slavery is repugnant and alien to the spirit of 
Christianity, while it is a concomitant of Islam, 
allowed by Muhammad who himself possessed 
slaves. The Muslim slave-traders have been one 
of the greatest curses of Africa — one has only to 
read the travels of Barth and Livingstone to realize 
that. “ Were it not that human remains are 
destructible the caravan route from Tripoli to 
Hausaland would be paved deep with human 
bones.” ^ Islam is still, in this year of grace 1926, 
a barrier to ridding Africa of the open sore of the 
world. In the Sahara slave-raids are still en- 
couraged, if not organized, by Muhammadans. 
These statements are made on the authority of 
the Temporary Slavery Commission of the League 
of Nations, whose report ^ affirms : 

" Information from reliable sources enables the Com- 
mission to state that the slave trade is practised openly 
in several Mohammedan States in Asia and in particular in 
the Arabian Peninsula, especially the Hedjaz. It is known 
that the Hashimite Government received dues on slaves 
sold in the markets, which is equivalent to an official 
recognition of the legality of tliis trade. The Commission 
does not know whether the present Government of Mecca 
or the provisional Government established at Jedda have 
maintained or abolished this practice, but there can be 
no doubt that negroes from the African continent are 
imported and sold as slaves in several districts of Arabia.” 
1 Lady Lugard, A Tropical Dependency, p. 410. 

* A. 19. 1925. vi. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


2 13 

What would be the condition of Africa to-day 
were the Muslims in uncontrolled possession ? A 
slave-trading Emir, who was warned by Sir Frederick 
Lugard that the traffic must cease, replied ; “ Can 
a cat stop mousing ? Will not a cat die with a 
mouse in her mouth ? I will die with a slave in 
my mouth.” If Islam ever perishes, it will die 
with a slave in its mouth . 

“ A religion which sanctions concubinage and 
slavery can never be accepted as final or perfect.”^ 

IModern Muslim leaders extol Muhammad as the 
ideal character. Muhammad Ali speaks of him as 
“ a great and noble Prophet whose varied earthly 
experiences furnish the best rules of conduct in all 
the different phases of human life.” There is no 
wish on my part to be uncharitable and I am 
willing to admit that Muhammad possessed some 
traits of greatness, but a man who had thirteen 
wives (one of them, Zainab, the divorced wife of 
his own adopted son ; another, Raihanah, a Jewess 
whom he took to his tent the night following the day 
when her husband had been slain in a massacre ; 
and a third, Ayesha, betrothed when seven years 
old and married at ten), who ordered or connived 
at assassinations 2 — ^who commanded his followers 
“ slay the idolaters wherever you find them ” — 
such a man is not the exemplar for any people, 
least of all for the Africans. 


1 Godfrey Dale, Islam and Africa, p. i2i. 

“ Canon Dale gives a list of seven, op. cii., pp, lo, ii. 


R 2 


244 


rm GOLDEN STOOL. 


IV. 

Remarkable changes are taking place in the 
World of Islam to-day.^ Ever since Muslims came 
into touch with a higher civilization, there have 
been two parties — the Orthodox who keep rigidly 
to the doctrines of the Qur’an and the Traditions ; 
and the Liberals who wish to modify the doctrines 
in accordance with a loftier ethic. With the opening 
of the Muslim world and with the increasing 
contact with Christians, the struggle between the 
parties has grown acute. In August, 1925, a 
learned Sheikh, Ali Abdel Razak, was sentenced by 
a superior Religious Council in Egypt to deprivation 
of his status as a professor of religious jurisprudence 
at Al-Azhar University, because in his book^ he 
repudiated much of the Tradition and attempted 
to prove that Muhammad never cherished ambitions 
of earthly kingship and never revealed anything 
but matters related to religious faith and practice. 
The Sheikh claimed that there is nothing in Islam 
to prevent the most pious Muslim from adopting 
from unbelievers whatever he finds best in matters 
of government or in the affairs of daily life. In 
short, he attempted to demonstrate logically what 
the Turks have already put into practice. The 
Orthodox have repudiated this teaching as heretical. 
But Ali Abdel Razak has many followers. In 

1 See especially the Rev. W. W. Cash’s book, The Moslem 
World in Revolution ; and The Moslem World of To-day (1925), 
edited by J. R. Mott. 

’ Islam and the bases of Government. Sec review in The Times 
Literary Supplement, October i, 1925. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


243 


India and also in England there are advocates of 
liberal ideas who believe that Islam is capable of 
reform. Were these to gain the ascendancy, the 
world might see a great change come over Islam. 

Lord Cromer used to say, Islam reformed is Islam 
no longer. At present a radical transformation 
seems impossible. The Turks are not reforming 
Islam ; they are breaking away from it. The 
great historic mistake of Turkish people, they say, 
was in embracing Islam, for it has kept them out of 
the stream of progress.^ The danger for Muslims 
is that they should lapse into irreligion — thousands 
in North Africa have lost their old faith and gained 
no other. A theocratic system, which is itself 
undergoing disintegration and does not bear within 
itself the capacity of reform, is hardly likely to be 
a remedy for African disintegration. 

But whether it is reformed, or remains unreformed, 
the nations of Europe, who hold so much of Africa, 
cannot look with equanimity upon an extension of 
Islamic influence and power. I'he French policy of 
arming and drilling hundreds of thousands of 
IMuslims constitutes a great danger both to Africa 
and Europe. And the French are coming to see 
it. Influential writers among them are urging 
their countrymen to break up the mass of Islam in 
North Africa. The policy of France in regard to 

* In proposing the acceptance of the new Civil Code, which 
treats the two sexes on a basis of equality, the Minister of 
Justice claimed that by its enactment, “ the past thirteen 
centuries would be swept away, a new dawn would arrive, and 
a fruitful era of ci^-ilization begin.”. It was voted by the 
Assembly on February 18, 1926. 


246 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the Berbers of Morocco is, in the words of Marshal 
Lyautey, de faire evohiev les Berbeves hors du cadre 
de r I slam. The French are everywhere opening 
schools among these people and excluding everything 
Islamic ; they teach French and discountenance 
Arabic because it is a vehicule de Vlslam.'^ It is 
their hope to make Frenchmen of these Africans. 
They need to bear in mind the words of Charles 
de Foucald, the soldier-monk of the Sahara. He 
hoped to see in Northern Africa une France 'prolongee, 
but believed this possible only on one condition. 
He wrote : 

“ My thought is that if the Muslims of our Colonial 
Empire in the North of Africa are not gradually, gently, 
little by little, converted, there will be a national movement 
like that in Turkey : an intellectual Hite- will form itself 
in the big towns, trained in the French fashion, but French 
neither in mind nor heart, lacking all Muslim faith, but 
keeping the name of it to be able to influence the masses, 
who remain ignorant of us, alienated from us by their 
priests and by our contact with them, too often very unfit 
to create affection. In the long run the ilite will use 
Islam as a lever to raise the masses against us. The 
population is now thirty millions ; thanks to peace, it will 
double in fifty years. It will have railways, all the plant 
of civilization, and will have been trained by us to the use 
of our arms. If we have not made Frenchmen of these 
peoples, they will drive us out. The only way for them 
to become French is by becoming Christian. "2 

A warning of another kind comes from South 
Africa. After Dr. Zwemer had drawn public attention 

1 M. ViGNON {op. cit., p. 501) : “ II ne serait pas sage de 
favoriser dans nos possessions la propagande de la langue en 
laquelle s’ dcrit le Coran." 

2 See his life by M. Ren 6 Bazin. 


ISLAM IN AFRICA. 


247 


to the gi'owth of Islam, the Rand Daily Mail (July 
30th, 1925) asked the question we have asked in 
this chapter : “ What religion ? ” and concluded 
that white South Africans would not hesitate to 
declare for Christianity, and not for Islam, as the 
basis of civilization in that countiy. A native 
paper replied to this, that the Christianity which 
the whites wish to impose upon the blacks is not 
in fact Christianity — where is there Christian love 
in the laws which Christians have imposed upon 
Christian blacks ? “ Let the blacks put no faith 

in the affirmations, for their life is not in accordance 
with the teaching of Holy Scripture, where we are 
told forcibly that for those who follow Jesus Christ 
there is no longer any distinction of race, — no 
colour bar.”i 


V. 

This chapter may close with the considered 
opinion of Bishop Hine, who spent twenty-five 
years in Africa, mostly among Muslims. 

" Is it to be a Mohammedan ci\>ilization or a Christian 
civilization to which we look ? Islam may suffice in some of 
its outward forms and manifestations to raise those primitive 
races to a higher point, but it is Christianity alone which 
can purify the inner life ; and it is, after all, the ‘ inner 
life which is the real life ’ of man, it is the ‘ inner life which 
is the working power.’ Islam may teach the African to 
wash his clothes and keep himself clean. Christianity 
alone it is which gives him the secret of the clean heart 

1 1 quote this from a letter of the Rev. Alfred Casalis in the 
Journal des Missions Evangeliques, October, 1925. 


248 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


and the good will, and the love of all things that are pure 
and beautiful and just and of good report. . . 

“ Writers (like, apparently, the Dean of St. Paul’s) who 
contemplate the spread of Mohammedanism among these 
many millions of people with equanimity, if not, indeed, 
with satisfaction, can hardly know what a mighty force 
they are encouraging, which one day may sweep the white 
man out of Africa. We who know ; we who have lived 
and seen facts as they are, and man as he is in that country, 
feel that it is the teaching and witness of the Christian 
Church, and of the Christian life, which alone can befit 
these races for their rightful destiny in the world." 

" A Mohammedan Africa might well be in time a great 
peril to the world. A Christian Africa, powerful for good, 
enlisted on the side of righteousness, may do much for the 
progress of mankind.”^ 

1 The Rt. Rev. J. E. PIine, Days gone by (1924), pp. 293, 

307. ix- 


CHAPTER X. 


Wherein is discussed the contribution that 
Christianity has to make towards the 

SOLUTION OF OUR PROBLEMS IN AFRICA. 

I. 

I believe \A'ith all my heart that Bishop Hine is 
right : only Christianity can prepare the Africans 
for their rightful destiny in the world. It can 
give them all that Islam offers, and infinitely more. 
To us who are convinced that the religion of Christ 
conveys final truth concerning God and man, and 
concerning the relation of man to man ; who are 
convinced, moreover, that the truth of Christianity 
is to be the light of all mankind, and that the minds 
of all men are capable of receiving it ; to us it is 
inconceivable that the Africans can ultimately be 
satisfied with anything that even at its best is but 
partial truth. 

Christianity aims at creating new personality in 
men and women — a dynamic motive, a renewed 
will, a higher sense of responsibility toward God 
and men. It aims at the conversion of individuals 
and the transformation of society, the building up 
of nations on the foundation of God’s law. This 


250 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


is not to be accomplished in a day, nor in a century. 
The full achievement demands generations for the 
establishment of a new heredity and to capitalize 
the gains that are painfully made by individuals. 

Many interesting and important questions that 
arise out of the evangelization of Africa, cannot be 
dealt with here. But an endeavour must be made 
to define the function of Christianity in the New 
Africa. 

In previous chapters the view has been repeatedly 
expressed that there is a future for the African, 
and that to assure this it is necessary not to de- 
nationalize him, but to help him to develop according 
to his own ethos. This raises a problem of great 
importance for the Christian Church. Does such 
a principle exclude the endeavour to win the 
African for a more spiritual religion than any he 
has yet possessed ? Can the African become a 
Christian and remain an African ? 

The question has been discussed in other terms 
by Mr. C. L. Temple, a very able British 
administrator, who is an enthusiastic exponent of 
Indirect Rule as established by Sir F. Lugard in 
Northern Nigeria. Christian missions have hitherto 
been partially excluded from some of the northern 
provinces of that territory, because “it is against 
the Government policy to permit Christian 
propaganda within areas which are predominantly 
Muslim.”! This is not the place to argue for or 

1 C. K. Meek, op. cit., Vol. II, p.247. The Church Missionary 
Society, however, has a missionary at Zaria, in a province 
which contains sixty-nine per cent; of Muslims. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


251 


against this policy, but it will be well to ask the 
reason for it. Mr. Temple is disposed to minimize 
the difficulties of a religious kind that might arise 
through attempts to convert Musliiris, and does 
not think that the Muslims themselves would raise 
objections against a Mission on religious grounds, 
but he justifies the Government’s action by pointing 
to the social disintegration, resulting in the 
ineffectiveness of the native administrations, that 
might follow the establishment of a Christian 
mission. For the same reason the Government 
might, he thinks, restrict missionary enterprise 
among pagan tribes which have emerged from a 
primitive stage, though allowing it among those 
peoples who were in a simpler and also among those 
who were in a more advanced and stable stage. 
He would gladly support Missions among European- 
ized Africans, but, says he, 

“ I venture to prophesy that if the policy of preser\ing 
the native institutions gains ground the missionary bodies 
will find that the Government will be forced, reluctantly 
enough but in the best interests of the natives, to restrict 
the sphere of their activities to an increasing extent, at all 
events for a time.”^ 

Mr. Temple evidently regards religion from the 
point of view of its usefulness in maintaining law 
and order. He is not opposed to Missions as such. 
If they would recognize the necessity of the Natives 
being good citizens, patriotic and disciplined, and 
of their developing on their own racial and tribal 

1 C. L. Temple, C.M.G., Native Races and their Rulers (1918), 
p. 217. 


252 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


lines — then Muslim Emirs, pagan chiefs and 
Residents would, he says, clamour for the establish- 
ment of mission stations. He thus admits the 
possibility of Christianity being a bulwark and not 
a danger to native administrations. 

Mr. Temple’s observations have been quoted 
because they suggest some questions that are 
extremely pertinent to-day — not in Africa only, 
but in India and China. To win a people for 
Christ, is it necessary to Europeanize them ? Can 
Christianity be so naturalized in a modern tribe 
or nation that it wall foster steady development on 
natural lines without causing anarchy ? Is it 
really necessary for Africans (or Indians or Chinese) 
to reject the religion of Christ, in order to retain 
the most valuable elements in their owm culture ? 
Does the acceptance of Christianity involve de- 
nationalization ? And if in any particular instance 
Christianity, as presented, proves to be disintegrative, 
does the fault lie wdth Christianity, or wdth its 
presentation ? 


II. 

In a previous chapter it has been pointed out 
that Governments also have a disintegrative effect 
upon the African social system, for they introduce 
many changes that are contrary to belief and custom 
on the ground that these are “ repugnant to natural 
justice, equity and good government.” This is 
true even w'here the principle of Indirect Rule is 


CimiSTlANITY IX AFRICA. 


253 


most scrupulously applied. The administration of 
the IMuslim Emirs of Northern Nigeria has (in Sir 
Frederick Fugard’s words) “ been purged of its 
excesses.” By putting down the slave trade and 
taking steps to abolish domestic slavery, a revolution 
has been caused in the economics of Islamic society. 
IMr. Temple concedes that “ in almost every case 
the Government also must share a part of the 
responsibility ” where in certain pagan districts 
the tribal organization is undermined. In Northern 
Rhodesia the Government, with the best intentions, 
interfered to prevent women from being married 
against their will, and the immediate result was, 
as Natives and District Officials complained, a 
disregard for marriage and an increasing drift of 
women to centres of population in search of irregular 
unions, money and excitement. A humane law 
thus appears to provide encouragement to immo- 
rality and prostitution. It is a question to what 
extent increased sexual licence has been caused by 
the putting down of intertribal wars which provided 
an outlet for the men’s emotion. But it cannot 
be doubted that where the native penalty of death 
for adultery has been disallowed, adultery has 
become more common. These facts are not referred 
to in order to be able to say lu quoque to Mr. Temple, 
but only to show that both Governments and 
Missions are faced by the problem which their 
intervention causes. 


" Native customs adoptecl and acted upon by our Courts,” 
says the Acting Secretary for Native Affairs in Northern 
Rhodesia, " insensibly receive modification in the process ; 


254 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


we have not pulled out any beam which is essential to the 
structure, but we have undoubtedly pulled out smaller 
supports, and the edifice must receive a shake every time 
we do this. At times we see the instability we have caused 
and are puzzled what prop to put in and where.” i 

There is always danger in legislating too far in 
advance of public opinion. What is needed is 
to raise the whole moral tone of the community — 
not merely the insertion of props from without, 
but the infusion of a new spirit into the social 
organism. Governments have their legitimate sphere 
of action, but some things lie beyond their powers. 
Laws and the administration of law can do much, 
but only religion can give the new moral basis to 
African society. There is therefore the best of 
reasons for a close co-operation between Governments 
and Missions. 

But still we are confronted with the indubitable 
fact that the introduction of Christianity does 
provoke at least temporary social confusion. 

Mr. Amaury Talbot, for example, records how a 
Christian Negro spoke to him, “ not complainingly, 
but with the air of one who voices a misfortune for 
which there is no help,” of the results of a decaying 
belief in the local tutelar}^ spirit named Ndemm. 

" So strong,” he said, “ was the influence of this powerful 
Ndemm that in olden days hardly a woman of this town 
was known to prove unfaithful to her husband. Quietly 
they dwelt in their houses, and there were no divorces, 
save by mutual consent. Only nowadays, when women 

E. S. B. Tagart, Native Customary Law (Proceedings of 
General Missionary Conference of Northern Rhodesia, 1924), 
p. 60. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


255 


are beginning to lose faith in the Juju, because the school- 
boys have been taught that there is no real power in such 
things, are cases of unfaithfulness no longer rare in our 
town.”^ 

There in Nigeria, as elsewhere in Africa, people 
lose faith in their old gods and have not yet accepted 
the new religion which would provide a more solid 
foundation for character. The result is confusion. 
Christianity appears in the false guise of a promoter 
of sexual vice. Sir Harry Johnston, after com- 
menting upon the manner in which the Ba-ila 
are (in his own words) “ governed, enslaved, by 
etiquette and custom,” goes on to say, “ This is 
not the case of the Ba-ila only, but of nearly all 
the savage tribes I have studied. One can easily 
understand how to most of them Christianity 
must come as Freedom and Reasonableness.”^ 
Christianity does so come to them, as Dr. Schweitzer 
has shown in a classical passage.® But the old 
fears and taboos were the sanctions of the tribal 
morality, and if the Africans surrender these, 
without accepting the new motives, the freshly- 
acquired freedom easily becomes anarchy. 

This point must be more fully illustrated. The 
missionary comes among a people who for ages 

^ P. Amaury Talbot, Life in Southern Nigeria {1923), pp. 
40, 41. 

“ In a review of The Ila-speaking Peoples of Northern Rhodesia, 
in The Observer, October 31, 1920. 

® On the edge of the Primeval Poresi{ig22), p.154 : " Christianity 
is for him the light that shines amid the darkness of his fears ; 
it assures him that he is not in the power of nature spirits, 
ancestral spirits, or fetishes,” etc. 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


256 

have lived a group-life in which the individual 
scarcely counts. We who are accustomed to a 
very different state of things cannot realize what 
a revolutionary doctrine Christianity is ; the idea, 
for example, that every man is responsible to God 
for his own actions. The missionary appeals to 
individuals — aims at securing personal conviction 
and conversion. For an African to respond means 
breaking in some degree from his group — an act 
which he has never before contemplated the 
possibility of doing. The stronger the cohesion of 
clan and tribe, the more difficult is the missionary’s 
task of securing individual conversions. Some 
adventurous spirits make the plunge, asserting their 
right to stand alone as their fathers never did. 
When one thinks of what it means, it is a heroic 
thing to do. They find that some of the family, 
clan and tribal customs are incompatible with the 
new w'ay of life. As others join their ranks, a deep 
schism is formed in the tribe : how deep depends 
upon the missionary. If he unwisely gathers his 
converts, as he is strongly tempted to do, in a 
village under his own surveillance, where they will 
be removed largely from the contamination of 
paganism, where thej? will look to him, and not to 
their chiefs, as their leader and guide in all things, 
and where they adopt European clothes and manner 
of living, the tribal system is inevitably shaken to 
its foundations. This is specially so when the 
Chiefs keep to their old ways. 

It is a situation of this kind that Mr. Temple 
contemplates when he speaks of the Government 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


257 


being forced to restrict tlic activities of i\Jissious. 
The principle of ruling the jreoplc through their 
Chiefs and of encouraging development along their 
own lines, appears to be incompatible with the 
teaching and practice of missionaries, and to 
discourage their activities the only consistent 
course for Government to pursue. We can under- 
stand that where the tribal life, with its old moral 
sanctions, has already been shattered beyond 
repair, j\Ir. Temple would eagerly support the 
missions for the sake of the new ethic they bring. 
But can the Christian Church accept restriction of 
its work to these folk ? Some missionaries are 
frankly opposed to the Government’s ideal ; they 
would break down the tribal system — without 
considering perhaps what should take its place. 
Others as frankly identify themselves with the 
Government’s ideal, and believe that Christianity, 
if presented as it should be, so far from being a 
hindrance to its realization provides (in Mr. Temple’s 
words) the bulwark of native admmistration. 
They claim, moreover, that their belief is warranted 
by past experience. 

Instances will presently be adduced to show that 
while some amount of temporary confusion has 
attended the introduction of Christianity — confusion 
that is due, perhaps, more to its presentation than 
to the Gospel itself — its intention, its tendency, 
and its achievement on the whole, have been on the 
side of the integration of African society. Sir-. 
Maurice Evans speaks of missionaries as being the 
only people who are consciously undertaking this 


258 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


very necessary task, and earnestly asks their 
detractors what they would suggest in substitution. 
Practically every Commission that has reported 
on the Native problem in South Africa (where it 
largely concerns detribalized Africans) has recom- 
mended the encouragement of Christian missionary 
activity as not only the right, but the wise policy 
for Government to pursue. ^ The Commission of 
1903-5, which included some of the leading citizens 
and most able administrators, said : 

“ The Commission considers that the restraints of the 
law furnish an inadequate check upon this tendency 
towards demoralisation, and that no merely secular system 
of morality that might be applied would serve to raise the 
Natives’ ideals of conduct or to counteract the evil in- 
fluences which have been alluded to, and is of opinion that 
hope for the elevation of the Native races must depend on 
their acceptance of Christian faith and morals." 


III. 

According to Dean Inge, “ As a great historical 
institution Christianity can be characterised only 
as the religion of the white race. . . . From the 
second century till the present day, Christianity 
has been the most European and the least Asiatic 
of religions. Its great expansion in modern times 
has been due to the unparalleled expansion of the 
white race.”^ He uses a vague and inaccurate 

^ EpeAR H. Brookes, The History of Native Policy in South 
Africa (1924), p. 436. 

® In Seience, Religion and Reality (1925), p. 387. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


259 


term. Colour is not a certain mark of race ; 
Semites, among whom Christianity arose, and 
many Indians with darkish skins, are classified by 
scientists as “ white ” (or Caucasic). What Dean 
Inge means is that Christianity has been adopted 
and naturalized by peoples of Europe and carried 
by them into other parts of the world which they 
have colonized. Some years ago Bernard Lucas 
wrote, “ Before India can be Christianized, 
Christianity must be naturalized.”^ Is not this 
true of Africa also ? If our religion is to become 
the religion of the Africans, it must surely be 
translated into the idiom of the African’s soul. 

I entirely agree with Dr. P. W. Harrison : 

" Missionary work is no enterprise of pity, in which we 
of the smug and self-satisfied West take a superior religion, 
and hand it down to poor miserable degraded heathen. 
The best definition of missionary work I know is found in 
the book of Revelation, where the writer is speaking of the 
New Jerusalem. ‘ They shall bring the glory and honour 
of the nations into it.’ Missionary work is just that, 
bringing the glory and the honour of the nations into the 
Kingdom of God.”* 

Our ideal is not a Christian world made of a 
uniform pattern throughout, but one that preserves 
within its unity all the diversity that the Almighty 
has given to the individual peoples. In the essential 
things let there be agreement, but in the forms 
which embody them, let there be variety. 
Christianity is (so to speak) a pure spirit which 
can extract from its environment multiform bodies. 

* Bernard Lucas, The Empire op Christ (1907), p. 19. 

* In The International Review of Missions, July, 1924, 

S 2 


26 o 


THE GOLDEI\' STOOL. 


It should not be expected that Christianity will 
assume a European shape m China and India. 
Those countries wall bring their own honour and 
glory into the Kingdom and their institutions wall 
be ennobled thereby. Africa is far below them 
in wealth of culture, and may have to receive more 
than she can give, but her mite must not be despised. 
In the measure possible, her institutions should be 
preserved to enrich the Kingdom, wliile being in 
turn enriched by it. 

What can be done, then, to naturalize Christianity 
in Africa ? Only a partial answ'er is possible here. 
It is necessary to urge that our religion be presented 
to the Africans, not in antagonism to, but as a 
fulfilment of their aspirations. In actual practice 
this means, among other things, cultivation of 
their languages, conservation and sublimation of 
all that is of value in their customs and institutions, 
frank recognition of the measure of truth contained 
in their religion. It implies, not a paganization of 
Christianity for the purpose of making it easier 
to the Africans, but the Christianization of every- 
thing that is valuable in the African’s past experience 
and registered in his customs. 

That the presentation of Christianity has alw^ays 
followed these lines in the past would be too much 
to claim. Some eminent missionaries have noted 
and lamented the fact. 

“ One is led to ask,” writes Dr. S. O’Rorke, lately Bishop 
of Accra, " have our missionary methods hitherto been 
sufficiently well-thought out and planned ? Has sufficient 
respect been given to native ideas, not to say ‘ faith’ 


crmiSTlANlTY IX AFRICA. 


261 


and age-long custom ? It will be here suggested that the 
answer must be in the negative. We have gone to work 
in the past upon the unsound foundation that ‘ The heathen 
in his blindness, Bows down to wood and stone.’ ^ In 
harmony with this presupposition the heathen has been 
called upon to make a complete break with his past in 
every respect.’’’ 

My old friend the Kasenga blacksmith had (to 
my mind) a truer conception of the missionary’s 
task and method. “ I take,” he was wont to say, 
“ an old hoe or the remnant of an axe and of it 
make a new tool, I do not throw the iron away 
because in its present form it is no longer usable : 
I fashion it anew into a thing of use and beauty. 
That is to say, I semununa it. I am a refashioner 
(musemunuzhi), and it seems to me that the mission- 
ary is trying to do much as I do. He too is a 
mtisemunuzhi” In his own idiomatic and 
picturesque way this thoughtful, intelligent pagan 
was translating our Lord’s own view of His mission, 
“ I come not to destroy but to fulfil.” Our Lord, 
it is time, spoke of not putting new wine into old 
wine-skins. But in His acted parable at Cana He 
showed how the new wine of the Gospel was a 
transformation of the water of the old dispensation^ 
He did not ignore or abolish the Decalogue : He 
fulfilled it by spiritualizing it. He sanctioned all 
the truth that had been won by the prophets of 
Israel. 

’ Dr, Aggrey (who is a Negro) amended the couplet thus, 
•‘The heathen in his hunger, Bow.s down to wood and stone.” 

* In his article " Religion in the Gold Coast,” Hibberi Journal, 
July, 1924. 


262 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


History affords no instance, so far as I know, of 
any people adopting an alien culture, or a new 
religion, so completely as to retain nothing of the 
old. A complete wiping out of the past is 
psychologically impossible. The African’s mind is 
not a tabula rasa upon which we can write what we 
please. Africans are not, as some people imagine, 
passive recipients of whatever new culture is 
offered to them. Like our forefathers, they have 
their own religion and social institutions. If, 
in teaching the Africans, we demand that they 
shall surrender all that they have hitherto cherished, 
we are asking them to do what we Europeans 
have never done. For the Christianity of to-day is 
other than essential Christianity — it is an amalgam 
of elements drawn from many sources. In the 
Christian festival of Christmas are mingled many 
elements which come from the cults of Teuton or 
Celt and the paganism of classical antiquity. 
Our Easter took the place of a celebration of the 
death and resurrection of a pagan god at the spring 
equinox. The names of the days are names of 
heathen deities. As Christianity adopted the 
vocabulary of paganism and spiritualized it, so in 
consecrating them it also transformed many pagan 
institutions. If, then, we insist upon the African 
taking our institutional Christianity as it stands, 
and surrendering all his past, what we are really 
requiring of him is that, in addition to the pure 
essence of our religion, he should also take over 
what it has absorbed from its European environment. 
It is, of course, extremely difficult to do otherwise. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 263 

We go to Africa not merely as Christians but as 
European Christians, with a strong natural prejudice 
in favour of everything that is European and a 
corresponding disdain for everything else. But we 
ought to recollect that there is a distinction not 
only between Christianity and civilization, for large 
tracts of our civilization are not Christian, but 
decidedly unchristian ; there is also a distinction 
between vital, essential Christianity and the organ- 
ized, historical institution that embodies it. Some- 
body has truthfully said that our Lord’s Commission 
does not read, “ Go into all the world and teach 
the English language ” ; nor does He bid us convey 
to the Africans every European accretion upon 
the Gospel. Our aim must be to make of the 
Africans not European Christians but Christians, 
and to Europeanize them as little as we can in the 
process — to implant the Gospel of Christ deep 
within their hearts, and allow them to organize 
their faith in a manner suited to their traditions 
and environment. 

It is needless to say that this is not to advocate 
the extreme accommodation with paganism that 
transformed the Virgin Artemis into the Ephesian 
Mother of God, and the cult of ancestors into 
worship of the saints. In view of much in 
the history of Christianity in Europe and Asia, 
and of Islam in Africa to-day, we need to hear 
Sir W. M. Ramsay’s warning : 


“ You may in outward appearance convert a people to a 
new and higher faith ; but if they are not educated up to 
the level of intellectual and moral power which that higher 


niE GOLDEN ETOOL. 


faith requires, the old ideas v/ill persist in the popular 
mind, all the stronger in proportion to the ignorance of each 
individual ; and those ideas will seize on and move the people, 
especially in cases of trouble and sickness and the presence 
or dread of death,”* 


IV. 

If Christianity is to become truly indigenous in 
Africa, there are two mistakes which the missionary 
must avoid, viz., an iconoclastic attitude to the old 
manner of life, and an excessive individualism. 

It goes without saying that he will find a great 
deal that is repugnant to his Christian feelings. 
It is not to be expected that he should acquiesce 
in these things, but it is necessary that he should 
be prudent and patient. As the new life gains in 
power in the hearts of the people, what is evil will 
slough off, as old leaves are shed from vigorous 
trees, African social customs are so closely 
articulated that external interference is like 
interference with the balance of animate nature. 
On this point one of the ablest and most experienced 
of African missionaries, Bishop Hine, has some- 
thing to say. Referring to the “highly organized 
system” of the Ba-ila, he insists upon the necessity 
of proceeding with caution and wisdom “lest we 
destroy that which has in it much that is good, 
and seek to replace it by laws and nilcs which are 
antagonistic to the native sense of fitness or custom.” 

* Sir W. if. RAM.SAV, Pauline and other studies, p. 157. 


CHRISTIAXITY IX .AFRICA. 


He continues : — 

" there is a reason for the law, very evident 

and binding to the native mind. At any rate, before he 
' wipes away all such nonsense ' the Christian teacher 
should know why the law exists and what it means to the 
hearer. The whole question is intricate and wonderful, 
and it needs indeed the spirit of wisdom and understanding, 
of counsel and knowledge on the part of those who teach 
the Gospel of Christ and the True Way of Life, that they 
may act with prudence and not with haste, lest they only 
upset and destroy much that is useful and fail to replace 
it by anything that is of lasting worth. 

The missionary must apply himself to a close, 
accurate, detailed, prolonged study of the people, 
and even when he knows them thoroughly should 
abstain from trying to put down customs by the 
weight of his authority ; let the people themselves 
decide, in the strength of their enlightened 
conscience, what course to take in regard to the 
old ways. In the meantime, let him exercise his 
soul in patience and believe m the ultimate victory 
of the Gosp>el. In particular, let him respect the 
tribal authority and teach his people to do so. 
In the light of experience in Africa the wisdom 
of St. Paul’s view is manifest, “ Let every soul be 
in subjection to the higher powers, for there is no 
power but of God, and the powers that be are 
ordained of God.” And if there are occasions 
when for conscience’ sake the Christians must 
respectfully but firmly refuse to obey the behest 

* The Rx. Rev. J. R. Hixe, M.D., D.D. (Bishop of Grantham, 
formerly Bishop of Nyasaland, of Zanzibar and of Xorthera 
Rhodesia), reviewing The Ila-Speaking Peoples iu Central 
Africa, April, 1921. 


2 66 THE GOLDEN STOOL. 

of a pagan chief/ let them cheerfully accept the 
consequences without calling for the intervention 
of the European magistrate, and let them on all 
other occasions display an unmistakable and 
enthusiastic zeal for the institutions of their people 
and thereby convince them of their patriotism. 

If one thing is more characteristic than another 
of the African, it is his strong social sense, seen in 
his intense loyalty to his Chiefs and in the solidarity 
of the clan. It is a very difficult thing for the 
missionary to realize the strength of this. He has 
been reared in the creed of individualism that 
prevailed alike in Church and State from the 
eighteenth well on into the nineteenth century, 
and even now has not altogether lost its grip. 
The whole tendency of the modern impact of 
civilization upon the African is to make him into 
an individualist, and missionaries, even more than 
others perhaps, because of their interest in men 
as men, are liable to accelerate the process. The 
mission of Christianity looks beyond the individual 
to the formation of a Society, and this aspect of 
it, if rightly presented to the Africans, ought to 
make a very strong appeal to their keen social 
sense. 

Since the African is accustomed to act as a 
member of a group, it would seem wise for the 
missionary to aim at, and expect, movements in 
the mass towards Christianity. As a matter of 

1 An illuminating instance is related by the Rev. W. T. 
Balmer in the Wesleyan magazine, The Foreign Field, February, 
1926. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


267 


fact, such movements have often taken place, and 
sometimes on a very large scale, as, for example, 
in West Africa under the preaching of the native 
prophet Harris, a free-lance who gathered whole 
communities, numbering many thousands in all. 
Such accessions demand careful attention on the 
part of the missions lest the last state of these 
converts be worse than the first. But when a 
whole community moves in this way the advantage 
is offered of avoiding the schism that is so dangerous. 
Missionaries of a severely individualistic tempera- 
ment and creed may suspect such mass movements, 
seeing that the conversion of the majority may 
not be very profound, but, after all, it was largely 
in this way that our Teutonic forefathers were 
brought into the Church. 

The same African characteristic should, and 
unquestionably does, make for the strength of the 
organized institutions of the Church. The essence 
of his clan consists in the subordination of the 
individual to the interests of the brotherhood, a 
mutual-aid society whose members are also members 
of each other. No doubt from our pronounced 
individualistic point of view the system lacks 
much — some observers would trace the mental 
stagnation of the African to its influence. But 
there can be no doubt that the brotherliness of 
the clan is more in keeping with the genius of 
Christ’s Gospel than is the selfishness of our individu- 
alistic civilization. This sentiment of brotherhood, 
this capacity of self-sacrifice on behalf of others, 
this solidarity which swallows up all egoistic 


:63 


THE COLDEK STOOL. 


competition that can thrive only on hann done to 
one’s fellows, — these are the very qualities that 
should characterize Christians. It is to this aspect 
of African character that Islam makes its strongest 
appeal, and if Christianity is to win Africa it must, 
in the spirit of Christ, outbid Islam in its offer of 
a real brotherhood. 

Surely it is in this direction that the criterion 
for judging the success of missionary enterprise 
should be sought. Statistics, I must confess, arouse 
no enthusiasm in me ; John Wesley was right, 
nmnbers are an inconsiderable circumstance. The 
true measure of the Church’s success is the degree 
to which it has built up Christian communities — 
not of denationalized folk, but of Africans, organized 
on lines congenial to the native mind ; not alienated 
from the mass of the people, but animated with a 
true spirit of brotherliness towards all ; not disdainful 
of outsiders, birt exercising a wide and elevating 
influence over the whole tribe or nation, and ever 
drawing into their circle those who have remained 
without, until the religious society becomes co- 
extensive with the civil community. In other 
words : a branch of the Church Catholic, in all 
essential things united with the disciples of Christ 
throughout the world, but self-supporting, self- 
governing, self-propagating, and truly African. 
Such a society is a very powerful agency in the 
adjustment of old ways to new, and in establishing 
an enlightened group-moralitj' in place of the old, 
worn-out ethic. 

Such branches of the Christian Church are in 


CIIRlSTlANiry IX AFRICA. -M 

fact being formed in Africa, arid prove by their 
measure of success that the social sense of the 
Africans can be utilised for high purposes. Take 
as an example, the Church in Uganda.^ As the 
British have built up the administration of the 
Protectorate by including the mdigenous govern- 
ments in a larger framework, so the Church 
Missionary Society has organized the Church on 
the lines of the native civil system. The organization 
reaches out to the little village societies which 
form the units and are grouped into districts and 
pastorates. The whole culminates in the Synod 
which is representative of the two thousand local 
churches of the diocese. The system rests upon the 
principle that Africa is to be evangelized by Africans 
and that the Church must be built up by its own 
sons. The English clergy, headed by the Bishop, 
are few in number (too few to meet the needs) ; 
the overwhelming majority of clergy are Africans, 
trained locally, living in native style, dressed in 
native garments, supported financially by their 
own people. From the beginning, the Christians 
have been taught to regard the Church not as a 
foreign institution, but their own — that it is their 
business to extend it and to support it by their 
contributions. 

Such a society meets the African’s need for 
fellowship. He does not stand alone : the clan- 
feeling is sublimated in the Church. When 
representatives go from little obscure village 

* The Rt. Rev. J. J. Willis, D.D., Bishop of Uganda, An 
African Church hi building (1925), 


270 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


churches to the great assemblies and return to 
report what they have seen and done, the members 
realize that they form part of a large and growing 
group. The Uganda diocese covers the whole of 
the four kingdoms included in the Protectorate, 
Each kingdom has its own civil council, but the 
Church Council, i.e., the Synod, represents the 
whole Protectorate and thus binds all the provinces 
in a larger unity. Attended by many of the native 
rulers and leaders, besides commoners, and all as 
delegates from lower courts, this assembly is an 
ordered, responsible, governing body whose decisions 
carry great weight and whose unifying influence 
is very great. The members of the Church are 
all literate. Nobody would claim that the ethical 
standard is of the highest ; yet the Church numbers 
its saints and martyrs, and the Christians are not 
to be judged by our measure but by the depth of 
the pit from which they were dug. The Church in 
Uganda is not yet fifty years old, and it is doubtful 
whether the Church in England was any better at 
that age. 

There is no need to insist upon the material 
and educational benefits the peoples of Uganda 
have received through the introduction of Chris- 
tianity. It is sufficient to allude again to the fact 
that the cotton-growing, for which the country is 
gaining fame, was started by missionaries. Nor 
do I wish to forget that the Roman Catholics have 
made their own contribution to the national life. 
My purpose here has been to show the Protestant 
Church as a great unifying agency, which has 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 271 

trained rulers and the commonalty in civic 
virtue. 

No doubt the Church Missionary Society had 
many advantages in Uganda, for it found intelligent 
peoples organized under capable leaders, many of 
whom became Christians, and it was able to establish 
the Church firmly before European invasion began. 
In other parts of Africa the Missions have had to 
do with broken and scattered remnants of tribes 
and have played no small part in their re- 
organization. In Basutoland and Nyasaland, to 
name no other territories, and scarcely to a less 
degree than in Uganda, Christianity has exerted, 
and still exerts, a tremendous social influence. 
It has not only redeemed individuals from barbarism 
and implanted within them new ideals of personal 
conduct, it has done much for the tribes corporately, 
and has gone a long way towards making them 
nations. Through their medical work the 
missionaries have combated the evils that threaten 
depopulation ; by example and precept they have 
elevated the conception of home ; they have 
introduced industries ; they have liberated 
intellectual powers and started into life 
the ambition to advance. Moreover, they have 
reduced languages to writing and produced the 
beginnings of a literature, thus conserving for the 
peoples what is both one of the greatest of social 
bonds, and an instrument of future progress. They 
have also, in a few instances, standardized differing 
dialects and thus brought closer together peoples 
who before were separated, The Christian Church 


272 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


has in these ways shouldered in Africa her distinctir e 
responsibility of renewing the mind and will of 
peoples by moral and spiritual influence. In 
co-operation with Governments, wherever it is 
permitted, she is helping to make strong nations 
and resisting the contrary tendencies towards 
disintegration. The end is not yet and before 
the goal is reached there will be many a mighty 
struggle. But a beginning has been made. \A^e 
claim no more. 


V. 

In regal'd to African social customs there is more 
than one possible attitude to take. The course 
commonly adopted, it is to be feared, is to repress 
them, as wholly unworthy of Christians. In view 
of our desire to establish an indigenous African 
Christianity, the best way of dealing with them is 
summed up in the word “ sublimation.” As used 
by psychologists this describes the process of utilizing 
the primary instinctive tendencies of mankind as 
a great fund of energy available for the higher 
ends of life : “ the superposition of man’s higher 
moral and intellectual capacity upon a basis of 
animal instincts.”^ To sublimate the pugnacious 
instinct, for example, means to transmute the 
fighting capacities of men into “ moral equivalents 
for war.” Applied to our missionary work, the 
w^ord may be used analogously of the process of 

1 W. McDoug.^ll, Introduction to Social Psychology, pp. 40.^, 
seq. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


273 


utilizing for Cliristiau ends the experiences registered 
in African practices and beliefs. The customs have 
grown up out of some felt need and represent 
something of value to the people. Not all of them 
are unclean and false ; very often in the heart of a 
false and unclean custom there is something 
admirable, and Africans will admit that many of 
the repugnant elements are not really essential. 
To sublimate means not to transplant the whole 
of any custom, good or bad, but to seek out the 
good kernel in things evil and to make it serve the 
interests of a higher moral and spiritual life. All 
that is best in the African’s past experience should 
be enlisted into theser\dce of Christ and His Church T 

Without pretending to be in any way exhaustive, 
I will illustrate what is meant. 

The pagan African is eminently religious and 
carries his religion into all his activities. If 
Christianity is to be true to his genius and meet 
his needs it too must be infused into all his life. 

The native religious ceremony of giving a name 
to the new-born child can readily be transmuted 
into Christian baptism. And in givmg names to 
children and to adult converts, why should we 
pursue the senseless custom of always bestowing 
Scriptural names ? The desire of Christian Natives 
to take new names to symbolize their new birth 
deserves sympathy, but why Zakariya, Zefaniya, 
Hezekiya, Sofoniya ? If they will prefer names 

^ It is instructive to read what is being done on these lines in 
Ce5don. See Paul Gibson’s article in The Inter national Revieu) 
of Missiorts, Januarj\ 1925, 

T 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


274 

taken from the Bible why not give them the 
vernacular equivalents ? In the Xosa language 
Nanziwe means “ Delightsome ” and is surely 
more suggestive and musical than the Hebrew 
equivalent, Hephzibah, the meaning of which they 
do not know. My own children were baptized 
by the names given them by Africans and I want 
no sweeter names then Thabo (“Joy”) and Matsediso 
(“ The mother of Consolation ”). The Africans 
have a genius for making or choosing euphonious 
and meaningful names ; why not encourage them 
to continue the practice ? ^ 

The large question of recreation cannot here 
be dealt with in any fullness. It has become a 
pressing problem in view of the restrictions imposed 
upon hunting in some parts and the killing off of 
the game in others. Missionaries need to encourage 
the natives in pastimes as well as in work. In the 
schools they should, while introducing foreign 
games (cricket and football), foster also the playing 
of native games, of which a great variety exists. 
Too often has dancing been banned. Many native 
dances are lascivious, but not all, and it is better 
to select and to purify what is after all a healthful 
exercise. David danced before the Lord with all 
his might and the Psalmist urged the people to 
praise God’s name in the dance. We cannot 
imagine an Anglo-Saxon dancing as a religious 

1 See Canon Godfrey Callaway’s article in The South 
African Outlook, February 2, 1925. " Upon that genius our 

heavy feet have trampled with disastrous results. I include 
myself in the number of offenders and f am amazed as I think 
of my own blindness and stupidity.” 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


275 


exercise, but I can readily conceive of an African 
doing so. And why not ? The African’s natural 
histrionic gifts could well be utilized in his general 
and religious education. Miracle Plays would appeal 
to them very strongly. In all these matters 
missionaries are too apt to take a repressive attitude. 

The Africans have also a distinct musical talent — 
it may well be, indeed, they will prove to be among 
the most gifted peoples in this respect. A negro 
musician of real genius, who has taken a degree 
in America, is now engaged in studying the 
indigenous music in Africa. It is to be hoped 
that some day this will be, at least partially, 
substituted for Western music in African Churches. 
Indeed it is already used to a small extent. In 
Nyasaland, Dr. Donald Fraser says, “ the old 
war-songs are used to-day to stir not the warlike 
but the missionary spirit ; the old dance-tunes 
inciting to vice and wickedness express the most 
tender emotions of religion.” 

Among the African institutions which might well 
be sublimated is the initiation ceremony through 
which boys and girls pass at puberty. Undoubtedly 
many features of it merit the disapproval of 
missionaries. It is a thing to which the Africans 
are very much attached, for it is regarded as the 
entrance into tribal life, and a young person who 
is not initiated loses status. That there is some 
good in it may be gathered from the fact that in 
planning the Boy Scout code Sir R. Baden Powell 
followed, as he has said, “ the principles adopted 
by Zulus and other African tribes which reflected 


T 2 


276 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


some of the ideas of Epictetus and the methods of 
the Spartans and of the ancient British and Irish 
for training their boys.”^ Some of the instruction 
given in the initiation schools has a high moral 
tone. Mr. Emile Torday, for example, records the 
following rules given to the Bushongo jmuths.^ 

“ To respect and obey the king, members of the royal 
family, mother and father ; to avoid offending the parents’ 
feeling of propriety ; to avoid obscene language ; to respect 
woman’s modesty ; to be just to one’s enemy, to rescue 
him when in danger, and not to try to get him into trouble ; 
not to permit several to attack a single person ; not to 
steal ; if they covet a thing to ask for it and if they cannot 
get it honestly to do without it ; to respect other people’s 
M'ives ; not to tell lies to a tribesman.” 

I rejoice in the extension of the Boy Scout 
Movement to Africa. Much of the training given 
forms an excellent sublimation of the initiation 
ceremonies. The Church might well go further 
and establish a kind of rite which would be accepted 
by the tribal authorities as equivalent to the 
ancient ceremony in giving an entrance into the 
tribe. Experiments have already been made along 
these lines with, it appears, some success. It would 
be a considerable gain to Christianity in Africa if 
this ancient custom could be sublimated. Merely 
to ignore it, or to repress it by stringent prohibitions, 
is not only to court trouble in the future but to 

1 See Sir R. Baden Powell’s article in The Daily Telegraph, 
July 19, 1921. 

“Emile Tordav, On the Trail of the Bushongo, pp. 1S5, 186. 
The teaching given to Ba-ila youths is outlined in The lla- 
speaking peoples of Northern Rhofesia, Vol. II, pp. 31, seqe^. 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 


277 


neglect a valuable means of Christianizing African 
life.^ 

In no department of native life does the missionary 
need to act more circumspectly than in regard to 
marriage. It is fatally easy to do almost irreparable 
injury to African social life by unwise interference. 

Among Europeans (including missionaries) there 
is no more common superstition regarding Africans 
than that these buy wives. It is high time that 
this misrepresentation ceased. In some regions 
the Natives have been so often told that they 
purchase wives that they have come to believe 
it, and now regard the “ dowry ” as a purchase. 
But in the eyes of the true Africans, the cattle or 
other goods handed over by the bridegroom’s clan 
to the bride’s do not constitute a purchase. The 
man does not acquire the proprietary rights that 
he gets when he purchases a slave. The chiko 
(or marriage-fee) is a guarantee of good treatment 
for one thing, and is regarded by women as a token 
of honourable marriage. Women for whom it 
has not been presented are not regarded as married. 
Why missionaries have refused to countenance this 
excellent native custom is difficult to understand. 
A much wiser course has been taken by the North 
Rhodesian Missionary Conference. They have 
asked the Government to bring in an Ordinance 
making Christian marriage dependent on the 

^ What trouble may be caused is showQ by the recent ex- 
perience of the Baptist Mission in the Yakusu district of the 
Congo. The better way is indicated in the e.xperiments con- 
ducted by the U.M.C.A. (See C»ntyal Africa, June, 1922, 
pp. 126-128 and October, 1923, pp. 218, 219.) 


278 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


observance of the essentials of native custom, and 
one of the things they suggest the Native 
Commissioner should satisfy himself about before 
granting a license for Christian marriage is that 
“ where demanded by native custom, some payment 
from the family of the bridegroom to the family 
of the bride has been made, unless the omission of 
this custom is agreed to by the representatives of 
both parties.”^ 

Most missionaries perhaps regard polygamy as a 
closed question, and would be horrified by a 
suggestion that the Christian Church should seem 
in any way to countenance the custom. But a 
suggestion for reconsideration of this attitude 
ought not to be thrust aside lightly. Monogamy is 
the only form of marriage consonant with Christian 
morality. Yet there are worse things than 
polygamy ; prostitution is worse. The surreptitious 
concubinage practised by large numbers of professing 
African Christians is worse than polygamy — it 
inflicts a greater wrong upon the women. To 
demand that before a man can enter the Church 
he must discard all wives but one, is to debar 
from the privileges of Church membership many 
men who are desirous of being Christians, but 
who cannot bring themselves to send away the 
women whom they have honourably married and 

1 Proceedings of the General Missionary Conference of Northern 
Rhodesia, 1924, pp. 82-85. The Rev. B. J. Ross, while asking 
" What tiling under heaven, we may ask, are missionaries in 
South Africa for if it is not to work against the stream of Native 
life ? ” is one of the missionaries who support the custom. 
{South African Outlook, December i, 1925, p. 281.) 


CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA. 279 

who are the mothers of their children ; it is also 
a direct incentive to loose living on the part of the 
discarded women. Under present conditions there 
is no place for unmarried women in the tribe — they 
are almost bound to live immorally. Slavery is 
also an abominable evil. Yet St. Paul never set up 
a Church rule against the owners of slaves : he even 
sent a slave back to his master. St. Paul’s teaching, 
based upon his Master’s, made it certain that 
ultimately the Christian conscience would revolt 
against and abolish slavery. To my mind, our 
attitude towards polygamy should be the same. 
Let us go on inculcating the Christian view of the 
relation of the sexes, let us insist upon monogamist 
marriages for the young converts, and in good 
time the African’s conscience, aided by the pressure 
of economic laws, will wipe away polygamy, with 
other evil things. 

In regard to marriage, our Christian ceremony 
should take over some of the traditional African 
forms. Let us by all means continue the use of 
the wedding rmg with its beautiful S3mibolism, but 
let us also adopt the African symbols. Where, for 
example, the native rite includes the partaking by 
bride and bridegroom of a plate of porridge in 
common — a symbol of the close union on equal 
terms of man and woman — this is too precious a 
thing to be lost, and it could easily be made an 
attractive and impressive part of the ceremony in 
church. 

The limits of space will not allow me to write in 
detail about other customs susceptible of Christian- 


2g0 


tH]L GULDEN STOOL. 


ization, v It has been insisted that the African’s 
M'hole attitude towards life is religious. If a man 
goes hunting, his first act after killing game is to 
offer a portion of the meat in sacrifice. All the 
agricultural processes are hallowed by religion. 
I would sublimate all this by boldly converting the 
pagan ceremonials. At the right season the people 
could be called together to ask God’s blessing upon 
the land to be cultivated and the seed to be sown ; 
there should be regular Christian festivals of the 
firstfruits and harvest. Their fishing and hunting 
would be similarly consecrated — everj^ act of the 
people, individual and corporate; We are too apt 
to lead our converts to associate religion only 
with Sunday. The pagan Africans have the 
advantage of a better conception of the place 
religion should occupy in life : and Christians 
should be not less, but more religious than the 
pagans. 

There are many things in the African’s religion 
which can be made the basis of Christian teaching. 
His ideas of God, for example. Even in the 
seemingly irrational taboos there is a precious 
element, for many of these testify to a deep-rooted 
desire for purification from what these people 
regard as evil. 

The plea here put forth is that we should present 
Christianity to the Africans, not in antagonism to, 
but as a fulfilment of their former aspirations. 
Then our religion will not come to them as a white 
man’s creed, and their old faith and social system 
will not appear as a mass of unmitigated evil to 


CHRIST IAN IT IN AFRICA . 2 S i 

be spumed as a false and unclean thing, but as a 
premonition of truth. Christianity will become 
deeply grounded in their past life, — not an exotic, 
but a living plant rooted in their racial experience. 

Perhaps the greatest obstacle in the way of adopts 
ing this attitude to-day is found in the resistance of 
African Christians. “ The best Christians we have 
had,” says a missionary, “ are those who cut clean 
away from native customs. , . , . Many, if 
not most, cases of arrested development and 
breakdown of character are directly traceable to 
failure to make this clean-cut,” But this 
intransigent attitude and these lapses, are they 
not due in large measure to the teaching of the 
missionaries that all the old life was of the devil ? 
Nobody udshes to encourage what is positively evil, 
but why ban everything indiscriminately ? Good 
Christian and educated Africans such as Dr. Aggrey 
and Mr. D. T. Jabavu lament the unsympathetic 
attitude of missionaries in the past. The fact is 
that our Evangel to the African has consisted too 
much of a long series of, Don'ts : and we have in 
some respects merely substituted new taboos for 
the old we have destroyed.^ 

Ultimately the attitude they will adopt towards 
the past experience of their race will be determined 
by the Natives themselves. Missionaries are not a 
permanent factor in the life of Africa — they will 

‘ On tills subject Cliapteis 4 and 5 on discipline, iu La Psycho- 
logic de la Conversion (Vol. 2), by Raoul Allier, should be 
carefully studied. I had not read them when I TivTote this 
chapter. This brilliant author’s conclusions, I fear, are in 
general contrary to the ^-icws I have put fonvard. 


282 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


one day (the sooner the better) disappear because 
no longer needed. It is not their business to decide 
what form African Christianity shall take, but to 
lay the foundations securely and well. In a 
century’s time, many Africans will want to know 
about their great-grandfathers and the only place 
where they will be able to learn of their manner of 
life will be the books written by anthropologists 
and missionaries. They will not thank us when 
they come to know how many valuable things in 
African life have been allowed to pass into oblivion. 


CHAPTER XI. 


Wherein the Education of the African is 
Considered. 


I 


W PIETHER the Africans shall be educated 
or not is beside the question to-day. As 
Lord Selborne has truly said, “ The very 
moment that a Native comes into contact with the 
white man his education has begun, if it is only 
with the storekeeper in the Government location.” 
Every white man in Africa is, whether he realizes 
it or not, an educator of the black. 

To counteract the too often deleterious effects 
of European civilization, to fit the African for 
his new environment, and to give him a chance of 


Note on Literature. — The following are the most important 
publications dealing with the subject of this chapter : — 

(1) Charles T. Loram, The Education of the South African 
Native (1917). [Quoted as “ Loram.”] 

(2) T. J. Jones, Education in Africa (1922) [E. A.] ; Education 
in East Africa (1925) [E. E. A.]. Reports of the two Education 
Commissions under the auspices of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. 

(3) Educational Policy in British Tropical Africa. Memorandum 

by the Advisory Committee on Native Education (1925) Cmd. 
2374. [E. P.] The Place of the Vernacular in Native Education. 

Memo. No. 3 of the Advisory Committee (1925). [P. V.] 


2S4 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


developing what is in him, a purposive education 
is necessary such as is given in schools. This is 
the subject of the present chapter. From the 
white man’s point of view, the question is not 
“ Can M-e afford to educate the Native ? ” but 
rather, “ Can we afford not to educate him ? ”^ 

In the dialogue^ where Plato sets the stage for 
a discussion on education, the end of which is the 
improvement of the soul of youth, Socrates asks, 
“ Is this a slight matter about which you and 
Lysimachus are deliberating ? Are you not risking 
the greatest of your possessions ? For children 
are your riches ; and upon their turning out well 
or ill depends the whole order of their father’s 
house.” Socrates knew, as we know, that great 
care is required in this matter, for education may 
be either a curse or the greatest of blessings. 
Knowledge is the food of the soul, said Socrates 
on another occasion “if you have understandmg 
of what is good and evil, you may safely buy 
knowledge of Protagoras or of any one . . . there is 
far greater peril in buying knowledge than in buying 
meat and drink ...” We Britons (and it is ivith 
British Africa that this chapter deals particularly) 
have, in effect, adopted some millions of Africans 
as our children, and it is no exaggeration to say 
that their welfare and our own depends largely 
upon our success in educating them well. 

' Loram, p. 45, 

* Laches, Jowett’s translation, Vol. I, p. Qz. 

* Pi'otagoras. Jorvett’s translation, Vol, I, p. 135, 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


2^5 


The task is a huge one. Approximately 50,000,000 
Africans live under the British flag and we may 
estimate one-fifth of them to be children of school- 
age. If for the time being we pass over the question 
of adult education, our problem thus presents 
itself : How to educate nearly 10,000,000 young 
Africans ? Allowing one teacher to fifty pupils, 
this means an army of 200,000 teachers. Where 
are these to come from — ^who is to train them ? 
A\Tio is to provide the money necessary to build 
and maintain the schools ? 

Missionaries have been the pioneers of education 
in Africa. They have regarded schools, not as a 
helpful adjunct merely, but as part and parcel of 
their work — an essential element in it. Even 
to-day, we are told on good authority, “ at least 
nine-tentlis of all the schools which exist in Tropical 
Africa are mission schools.”^ Throughout Africa, 
Protestant missions report over 19,000 institutions 
with about a million pupils ; Roman Catholic 
missions report approximately the same numbers. 
These schools have been criticized — ^sometimes with 
good reason, but often unfairly. At least the 
missions may take credit for having borne the 
burden hitherto of what is really an Imperial 
task. Out of their scanty funds, provided largely 

1 Dr. G.^rfield W'illi.cms, I.R.jM., Januaiy, 1925, p. 12 . 
Figures are given in I. R. M., October, 1924. These show 102 
Government schools in British Tropical Africa. The Muslim 
schools are excluded from these calculations (there are 26.000 
Koranic schools in Northern Nigeria), probably because they 
are not accounted worthy of the name. “ In the Belgian 
Congo and in Portuguese Africa the work of education is almost 
eptirely in the hands of missions ” 


286 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


by the generosity of poor people in the Homeland, 
they began and have carried on the work in spite 
of indifference, and often opposition, on the part of 
Governments and settlers ; they persevered in the 
days when Africans saw no good in going to school, 
and if to-day the Africans are clamouring for 
education it is largely due to the incentive they 
have given. What faults the mission schools have 
are due to the fact that, in common with their 
generation, the missionaries had inadequate ideals 
of education. But they are not alone to blame. 
They carried to Africa the system under which 
themselves were trained at home. Many of the 
deficiencies have been forced upon the missionaries 
by Government— as in South Africa. Other faults 
are due to lack of money. Wdien all is said, the 
missionaries, on the testimony of the Phelps-Stokes 
commissions, have no cause to be ashamed of 
their work.^ 

But the position to-day is that the enormous 
task of educating the African is beyond the unaided 
powers of the Church. A few figures taken from 
Dr. Jesse Jones’ second report will suffice to 
demonstrate the inadequacy of their efforts. Of 
about 200,000 native children distributed throughout 
Northern Rhodesia, not more than 50,000 attend 

1 Dr. Garfield Williams, who accompanied the second 
commission (“ I have gone quite definitely as a critic ”), says : 
“ in general the work accomplished by missionaries in their 
schools in the past in Africa is simply staggering in its magnitude 
and in the general excellence of its quality if one studies it 
scientifically — that is taking account of all the facts.” Much 
of it he pronounces " a positively superb piece of educational 
work." I. R. M., January, 1925, p. 14. 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


287 


school — all but 600 are in mission schools. In 
Nyasaland the proportion of pupils is larger : 
146,800 out of 240,000 — all of them, be it noted, 
in mission schools. There are said to be 800,000 
children of school-age in Tanganyika, of whom 
5,000 attend the sixty-five Government schools, 
and 115,000 the mission schools. In Uganda the 
children number approximately 640,000 and those 
receiving instruction, 157,000. 

\Vhile these figures show how much remains to 
be done, they do not tell all the tale. A large 
proportion of the children attend (very irregularly) 
little out-schools where the teaching is given often 
by untrained men and is ineffective from the 
educational point of view. It is said that even in 
Uganda, out of the 157,000 pupils only 500 have 
reached the third or fourth (English) standards, and 
not more than 100 a higher standard than the 
fourth. 

While the exchequers of the missionary societies 
are taxed to exhaustion in maintaining their 
schools (in spite of the fees they may receive from 
parents), the Governments of British territories 
are drawing huge sums from the Africans in the 
form of taxes, but, whether in supporting mission 
schools, or in maintaining their own, are spending 
a very small proportion of that revenue on educating 
the Africans. Happily they have now awakened 
to the necessity of doing more. In 1925 the 
Advisory Committee on Native Education, 
appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, 
on the initiative of the missionary societies, 


2SS 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


submitted recommendations whicli were accepted as 
its policy by the Imperial Government. In their 
memorandum they declared : 

“ The rapid development of our African Dependencies 
on the material and economic side demands and warrants 
a corresponding advance in the expenditure on education. 
Material prosperity without a con-esponding growth in the 
moral capacity to turn it to good use constitutes a danger. 
The well-being of a country must depend in the last resort 
on the character of its people, on their increasing intellectual 
and technical ability, and on their social progress. A policy 
which aims at the improvement of the condition of the 
people must therefore be a primary concern of Government 
and one of the first charges on its revenue. 

No controlling power that acknowledged the 
responsibility of Trusteeship for the moral advance 
ment of the native population could adopt a 
different attitude. 

As an earnest of what is to be, the Government 
of the Gold Coast is spending .£400,000 on the erection 
of the great institution at Achimota, which is to 
bear the name of the Prince of Wales, and has 
appointed the Rev. A. Fraser as Principal, with 
Dr. Aggrey, a native of the Colony, as Assistant 
\hce-Principal. Other local administrations are 
taking up the matter with considerable energy. 


II. 

We arc thus confronted with these two facts. 
On the one hand, the missions which have laid the 

1 E. P„ p. 5, 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 289 

foundations of an educational system find them- 
selves unable to provide all the necessary schools. 
On the other hand, the Governments are now 
prepared to spend a larger proportion of their 
revenues on educating the people. What is to 
follow ? The Advisory Committee declare that 
“ Co-operation between Government and other 
educational agencies should be promoted in every 
way.”i And again, “ Government welcomes and 
will encourage all voluntary educational effort 
which conforms to the general policy. But it 
reserves to itself the general direction of educational 
policy and the supervision of all educational 
mstitutions, by inspection and other means.” The 
Committee look to the giving of grants-in-aid to 
efficient schools, adding : “ Provided that the 
required standard of educational efficiency is reached, 
aided schools should be regarded as filling a place 
in the scheme of education as important as the schools 
conducted by Government itself.” From this it 
appears that the Advisory Committee comtemplate 
that the Governments will where necessary build 
their own schools, and give the missions grants-in- 
aid on condition that their schools attain a standard 
set by Government. 

Most of the missions have in the past been 
willmg to accept grants where offered on such 

1 Mr. Ormsby-Gore, the Under- Secretary of State for the 
Colonies, said in a speech, " The Government is out for co- 
operation with all the missionary societies. . . We cannot do 
without them. We have seen their magnificent work and we 
want to do our share in the service of Africa as a whole — for 
the African, body, soul and spirit.” {East Africa, January 14, 
1926.) 


U 


2 go 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


terms. A few have preferred to work quite 
independently, on the ground that they teach 
religion and that the Church ought not to accept 
money from the State for this purpose ; or because 
they do not wish to be interfered with in their 
curriculum. There is much to be said for this 
attitude of independence. When Governments pay 
the piper they naturally claim to call the tune. 
WTiere educational ideals conflict, the missions 
must either lower their flag or risk the starvation 
of their schools. If the two parties are to co-operate 
in any real sense they must come to an agreement 
as to the aims and processes of education. If no 
agreement can be reached, then the missions are 
justified in refusing grants rather than surrender 
their principles. In that case they must either 
provide more money, or be prepared to see their 
schools suffer in the competition with the more 
wealthy Government institutions. 

The chief difficulty in the way of co-operation 
is the question of religion in the schools. The 
controversies that this has raised in England are 
well known. In Africa, few men who know the 
people would dispute that they are eminently 
religious and that the education we give should 
pay due regard to that side of their life — indeed 
any education that is in accordance with African 
genius will make religion colour every phase of 
life.i Any system of instruction in industry and 

1 M. Louis Franck (Belgian Colonial Minister) puts the case 
thus ; “ Pour 1' education morale c' est sur 1’ evangelisation 
qu’ il faut surtout compter. On ne fera rien de permanent sans 
elle. Cette conviction est independante de toute consideration 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 291 

science alone would make the Africans a nuisance 
and a menace to the world — would ruin them. 
We have no use for secular education in Africa. 
That Government schools must necessarily be 
destitute of religious training is not true ; in 
Southern Nigeria, for example, they follow the 
same syllabus as the mission schools. As long as 
Mr. Fraser and Dr. Aggrey and their colleagues 
are in charge of Achimota college the atmosphere 
and instruction will be religious. But some 
Government schools exclude religion — in Sierra 
Leone, for example. Of the Tanga institution in 
Tanganyika Dr. Jesse Jones notes, “no provision 
is made for religious instruction, and this is also the 
case in the Government district schools.” The 
comment made by the headmaster is significant : 
“ Moral training from the religious standpoint is 
outside our province, but I would like to suggest 
that if facilities were given officially in any creed to 
take place in the school curriculum, we would get 
a better type of boy in the school and better 
results . . . the task of forming character divorced 
from a definite code of morals is not likely to 
succeed.” 

India has much to teach Africa — by her mistakes. 
Bishop Whitehead, who spent nearly forty years 
there, says that the genius of India has always 

de foi ou de dogtne. Elle est basee sur cette observation que 
la vie indigene est profondement penetree de religiosite, et 

dominee par le mystSre Seul un autre sentiment religieux, 

plus eleve, mais aussi profond, parait capable de remplacer ces 
influences traditionnelles, et d’ amcner la moralite indigtoe h 
un plan superieur.” Etudes de Colonisation comparee (1924), 
p. 123. 


U 2 


292 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


expressed itself in religion and that a system of 
education for India which leaves out religion is 
like “ Hamlet ” without Hamlet. The Government 
has maintained “ quite rightly ” a strict neutrality 
in regard to religious teaching. This policy “ has 
tended to repress India’s genius rather than to 
develop it, and to substitute politics for religion as 
the main preoccupation.” From an educational 
point of view, as regards the training of character, 
the decreased interest in religion is a great loss.^ 

It cannot cause surprise if missionaries, who are 
supremely concerned with religion, should view 
with apprehension the establishment of Government 
schools on the ground that they might follow the 
example of India. Happily, the Advisory Committee 
have re-assured them. They say : 

“ Since contact with civilization — and even education 
itself — must necessarily tend to weaken tribal authority 
and the sanctions of existing beliefs, and in view of the all- 
prevailing belief in the supernatural which affects the 
whole life of the African it is essential that what is good in 
the old beliefs and sanctions should be strengthened and 
what is defective should be replaced. The greatest im- 
portance must therefore be attached to religious teaching 
and moral instruction. Both in schools and in training 
colleges they should be accorded an equal standing with 
secular subjects. 

Such a declaration, while suggesting some 
questions, means that in Africa the British Govern- 
ment does not intend to maintain, as in India, an 
attitude of strict neutrality as regards religion. 

^Indian Problems (1924), pp. 147, 149. 

2 E. P„ p. 4. 


ISDU CATION IN AFRICA. 


293 


Another apprehension is removed, by the Advisory 
Committee’s decision that Advisory Boards of 
Education should be set up in each Dependency, 
to include government officials, missionaries, traders, 
settlers and representatives of native opinion. 
This is eminently satisfactory, since if there is 
to be co-operation, missionaries should have some 
voice in the formation of educational policy. It 
would have been better to give these Boards 
executive as well as advisory powers, but in practice 
it will be found that missionaries of experience and 
character will exercise very great influence over 
the decisions taken. These boards have already 
been set up in most of the dependencies. 

With the removal of these misapprehensions, it 
will be advisable for the missionary societies to 
enter into co-operation with the Governments. 
But let them not make any mistake. They must 
do their part in providing adequate staffs for their 
schools and training institutions. The Govern- 
ments are evidently determined to go ahead, and 
it rests with the missions to decide whether they 
will keep step, or be left behind. 


III. 

We can wisely adapt means to an end only if 
we know what goal we desire to reach. In dealing 
with the education of Africans we must ask therefore, 
^Vhat is it we are aiming at ? What do we desire 
that they should become ? 


294 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Africans can no longer live an isolated existence. 
Over a large part ‘of Africa they have to live side 
by side, more or^less, with Europeans. Even in 
segregated areas, such as Basutoland, their economic 
life depends largely upon white men. The resources 
of the country can only be developed by harmonious 
co-operation of the races. Should this fact supply 
the regulative principle of our educational scheme ? 
Is it our aim to make the African a more useful 
person to the European ? That is the theory 
held more or less explicitly by many people. 
Educate the African, they say, because by doing 
so you will increase his wants ; he will work harder, 
whether on his own lands to produce exportable 
things, or on the mines and plantations to earn 
wages ; in either case he will be in a position to 
purchase greater quantities of European goods and 
that will provide more work for our factories in 
England and put more money in our pockets. 
It is quite obvious both that to increase the purchas- 
ing power of 50,000,000 British Africans must be 
beneficial to the mother-country and that education 
must have this effect. But is this to be our motive, 
and is it to determine the kind of education we shall 
give the African ? 

In territories such as South Africa, is it our aim 
to prepare the detribalised African for political 
rights equal to those of the European ? Or looking 
ahead, are we to prepare the Africans for the possible 
eventuality that, as the Romans abandoned Britain, 
so the Europeans will leave Africa — a time when 
the Africans will stand alone ? Or are we to 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


295 


envisage native states included in the British 
commonwealth of nations, and are we to prepare 
the future citizens ? 

It is better to approach the subject from the 
standpoint of the C.O.P.E.C. Commission on 
Education. Our aim should be to develop the 
African’s personality on all sides and to the fullest 
extent to which it is capable. We do not know 
what the future of the African is to be. But there 
is every reason to believe that he possesses a nature 
that is rich and capable of great development. 
If he is given the chance to develop his personality 
we shall be preparing him for whatever his destiny 
may be. If we can make of him a worthy citizen 
of the Kingdom of God, he will also become an 
efficient and useful citizen of the British Common- 
wealth, fitted in the future to take his place beside 
his European peers, and useful to them as well as 
to his fellow-Africans. 


IV. 

The personality of the African is rooted in the 
past — the past of the African’s own race. He 
cannot be treated as if he were a European who 
happened to be born black. He ought not to be 
regarded as if he were a building so badly constructed 
that it must be pulled do\\m, its foundations tom 
up and a new structure erected on the site, on a 
totally new plan and with entirely new materials. 
Any such attitude is psychologically absurd. 


2g6 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Education has been defined as the causing of 
people to develop according to the laws of their 
own nature. The first requisite in an educator 
is that he understand the nature of the educand. 
It is a trite saying that the verb “ to teach ” governs 
a double accusative : to teach Jack arithmetic the 
teacher must know Jack as well as arithmetic. 
If this simple fact is insisted upon when educator 
and educand belong to the same race, how much 
more is it necessary to insist upon it where the 
teacher is European and the pupil African ? In 
this case Jack has lived in an entirely different 
environment ; his social heritage differs from ours ; 
his ideas, his outlook upon the universe, are diverse 
from ours. If we are to educate him these facts 
cannot be ignored. Surely the first thing necessary 
is to understand the African and his past, and the 
second is to plan our educational scheme so that 
he shall develop according to the laws of his own 
nature. 

To ignore these elementary considerations is to 
prepare for trouble. Here again India has a lesson 
to teach Africa. \Vhen, early in the nineteenth 
century, the question of education called for 
settlement, the decision was given against the 
“ Orientalists,” who advocated a system conducted 
on Indian lines with the vernaculars as the medium 
of instruction (English to be taught in higher 
grades as a foreign language). The decision was 
given on grounds of practical and administrative 
convenience, not on educational principles. Bishop 
Whitehead does not hesitate to describe Macaulay’s 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


297 


minute of 1835 “ the evil genius,” not the Magna 
Charta, of Indian education ; and the result “ a 
disaster.” He does not deny that many blessings 
have accrued to India through the system finally 
adopted, but these have been bought at too great a 
cost. The fact that English is the medium of 
instruction for all the higher education has placed 
a tremendous burden on the large majority of the 
students which they are quite unfitted to bear — the 
double burden of mastering their subjects and of 
thinking in a foreign language is far too great a 
strain. The vicious system demoralizes both 
teachers and students. Mechanical learning, which 
is the result of using a foreign and imperfectly 
acquired tongue, inevitably divorces words from 
realities, and widens the gulf between the educated 
class and the mass of the people. The education 
becomes aggressively English, its avowed object 
being (as Macaulay said) to make Indians English 
“ in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” 
So it has tended to repress India’s genius rather 
than to develop it.^ One of Mr. Gandhi’s grievances 
against the system is precisely that it makes the 
Indians lose the treasures of their own language. 
An English literary education, which has nothing to 
do with the building up of character, has, he declares, 
emasculated the youth of India. ^ 

My own experience in South Africa leads me to 
endorse Bishop Whitehead’s condemnation of a 

1 Bishop Whitehead, op. cit. I have summarized this 
indictment from Chapter 10. 

* Romain Rolland, Mahatma Gandhi (1924), pp. 10, 105. 


298 


THE GOLDEN STOOL-. 


system which ignores the roots of personality in 
the past. I began my missionary career by teaching 
in two institutions where teachers were trained. 
The syllabus in both cases was that ordained by 
the Cape Colony government for white and black 
students alike. No native language was allowed to 
be spoken. All teaching was carried on in English, 
of which the students’ knowledge was often pitifully 
meagre. The very first lesson I gave was in English 
grammar and the passage set for analysis was the 
opening of Paradise Lost — those sonorous lines 
beginning “ Of man’s first disobedience and the 
fruit of that forbidden tree.” More hours than 
bear thinking about were spent in teaching the 
history of the early Saxon kings of England. It 
was all so nauseatingly false and superficial that 
I quickly came to loathe the whole system. It 
was cramming of the vilest kind. So much work 
had to be done within a fixed time to prepare the 
pupils for the yearly examination : there was no 
time really to teach. I understand what Bishop 
Whitehead says about demoralization. My own 
fine ideals went by the board — they simply could 
not be put into practice. The unfortunate victims 
of the pernicious system simply memorized page 
after page of the text -books (“to by-heart,” say 
the Indians), which were written, be it remembered, 
for European students. No use was made of the 
gardens to teach gardening, hygiene was not 
thought of, no (games were taught. All the 
educational value of the wonderful African 
languages was utterly ignored. You can call this 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


299 


system by any name you wish, but it certainly 
was not education. The effect on the men’s minds 
was deplorable. I knew several students who 
went mad under the forcing process. Those who 
survived and passed the examinations (as some of 
them did) left with a totally false view of education 
— left to spread it among their pupils. To learn 
a book and pass a test and thus to become a 
“ teacher ” and “ an educated man ” was the 
ideal. The pathetic thing was that young men 
would heroically practise self-denial and labour 
hard to earn their fees, and would travel immense 
distances to enter these schools. They became 
strong opponents of any reform, on the ground 
that to differentiate betw^een them and English 
students in a syllabus was to insult native 
intelligence. Cut off from the past, taught indirectly 
or directly that everything in their own tribal life 
was valueless, it is no matter for wonder that they 
came to depise everything African, or that a deep 
gulf was opened between these teachers and their 
“ uneducated ” tribesmen. 

The same evils which existed in South Africa^ 
have been rampant elsewhere in Africa, as the 
Phelps-Stokes Commissions report. The old system 
was not adapted to the actual needs of the people : 
it produced an altogether disproportionate number 
of clerks and such-like persons, who left home 
and sought employment with Europeans in the 

1 A more enlightened system has, I understand, now been 
introduced. But Dr. Jesse Jones found the old one still regnant 
in 1921. 


300 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


towns. And their most marked characteristic was 
that they had become what the French call deracines. 
It is not that we want to repress the African’s 
legitimate ambition to rise. It is not that we want 
to keep him isolated from the world, and to deny 
him any loiowledge. We want them to be truly 
Africans, not caricatures of Europeans. “ If I 
were to define denationalization,” says A, G. Fraser, 
“ I should say it was irreverence for and ignorance 
of one’s own nation and culture, and of the things 
now chiefly affecting it.’’^ Anything in the schools 
that leads to such denationalization stands 
condemned. 

One of the links with the past is found jn the 
African’s language, and any real education of the 
African involves the conservation and use of his 
language in all stages, from the lowest to the highest. 
I would make my own the words of one of the 
foremost Africanists of our time. Professor Diedrich 
Westermann • 

“ Language and mental life are so closely connected 
that any educational work which does not take into con- 
sideration the inseparable unity between African language 
and African thinking is based on false principles and must 
lead to an alienation of the individual from his own self, 
his past, his traditions and his people. If the African is 
to keep and to develop his own soul and is to become a 
separate personality, his education must not begin by 
inoculating him with a foreign civilization, but it must be 
based on the civilization of each people, it must implant 
respect for the indigenous racial life, it must teach him to 
love his country and tribe as gifts given by God which are 

^ Aims of African Education in I. R, M., October, 1925, p. 517. 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


301 

to be purified and brought to full growth by the new 
divine life. One of these gifts is the vernacular, it is the 
vessel in which the whole national life is contained and 
through which it finds expression." ^ 

In support of this position the words may be 
added of a distinguished Belgian — M. Louis Franck : 

" To exclude the native languages from the school of the 
people in order to impose exclusively a European language 
is a mistake and an injustice. 

The French commit this injustice consistently. 
Their prevailing colonial policy has been to assimilate 
their African subjects — to make them Frenchmen, 
and they therefore teach French. “ The day that 
our North Africa speaks French it will be truly a 
French land and an extension {prolongement) of the 
fatherland. It will feel and think like France.”® 
Some of the writers speak as if the very existence 
of their country depends upon teaching their 
language in Africa. M. Aristide Prat, Inspector- 
General of Education in French West Africa, 
rebels against this traditional policy; it is an excellent 
way, he says, to make deracines and rebels. Yet, 
illogically it seems to me, he clings to the teaching 
of French and to the total exclusion of indigenous 
tongues.^ 

The Portuguese have in recent years followed a 

1 The Place and Function of the Vernacular in African 
Education, in I. R. M., January, 1925. 

^Etudes de Colonisation comparee (1924), p. 125. 

® Albin Rozet, quoted by M. Vignon, Un programme de 
politique coloniale, p. 466. 

* Bidletin Piriodique of the Societe Beige d’ Etudes et d’ 
Expansion, April, 1925. 


302 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


similar policy, again not on educational, but on 
political grounds. 

I agree with M. Franck, it is not only a mistake 
from an educational point of view — it is an injustice. 

It must be admitted that the ideal of teaching 
every African in his mother-tongue is difficult to 
put into practice. Not, however, because the 
languages are unfitted for the purpose : rich, 
flexible, expressive, musical, capable of infinite 
development, these make an excellent medium for 
instruction. No insuperable difficulty has been 
encountered in translating the Scriptures into these 
languages. The educationist’s difficulty arises from 
their multiplicity. There may be a thousand 
languages spoken in Africa ; some of them over 
wide areas and by millions of people ; others mere 
dialects used by a few hundreds or thousands. 
In a country like Basutoland where there is a 
standard language, the problem is simple ; whereas 
in a region like the Bauchi province in Nigeria, 
where the 750,000 people are divided into no tribes 
and many of the languages are so divergent as to be 
unintelligible in neighbouring villages,^ the problem 
is formidable. The whole question needs careful 
examination by experts, and this is one object of 
the projected International Bureau of African 
languages and literature. Every dialect cannot be 
perpetuated in literary form. Certain expansive 

O. Temple, Notes on the Tribes of the Northern Provinces of 
Nigeria (1919), p. 415. Mr. W. N. Thomas states that over 
230 different languages are spoken in Northern Nigeria. 
(C. K. Meek, The Northern Tribes of Nigeria (1925) Vol. II. 
P- 132.) 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 303 

languages will no doubt displace the more local 
forms of speech. The schools will help the process 
of selection and perpetuation. It will mean in 
many cases that pupils will have to learn and be 
taught through the medium of an African language 
which is not their own mother-tongue. This is 
not an ideal arrangement, but a compromise forced 
upon us by circumstances — the sheer impossibility 
of producing a literature in so many hundreds 
of tongues. But this is a very different thing 
from teaching English, as some people advocate 
in order to solve the difficulty. To teach a Sicilian 
in the standard Italian, which is more or less the 
dialect of Tuscany, does him no real harm ; to 
teach an African in a closely allied tongue, whose 
vocabulary is much the same and whose genius is 
identical with his own, is not inflicting a great 
injury upon him — indeed iVfricans readily learn 
neighbouring languages. But to insist upon an 
African abandoning his own tongue and to speak and 
read and think in a language so different as English, 
is like demanding that the various Italian peoples 
should learn Chinese in order to overcome their 
linguistic problem. 

The Advisory Committee has wisely decided that 
in all elementary schools, and as a rule (except 
perhaps in the highest classes) in secondary schools 
also, the education should be conducted in the 
vernacular : “ the mother-tongue is the true vehicle 
of mother wit.”^ For the large majority of the 
pupils it is not necessary to learn English at all. 

‘ PV. p. 3. 


304 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


Those who show extraordinary promise and will 
become teachers and leaders may be taught English 
in secondary schools in order to broaden their minds 
and give them access to the treasures of our literature. 
Where a secondary school, or normal college has 
to serve a multi-lingual area, and where no common 
language exists, it may be found necessary to use 
English as a medium of instruction.^ But even 
there the vernacular should not be neglected ; it 
should be made a regular subject of study together 
with the native folk-lore and traditions. For it is 
supremely important that the future leaders and 
teachers of the people should not be cut off from 
their fellows, but should be in closest touch with 
them. 


V. 

The principle enunciated by the C.O.P.E.C. 
Commission is the sound one, namely that education 
should aim at the full and harmonious development 
of the resources of the human spirit, the making 
of the perfect man and woman : a completely 
integrated personality rightly related to the society 
from which it is inseparable. In other words, 
as Sanderson of Oundle used to insist : the aim of 
education is that we may have life and have it 
more abundantly. 

Life unfolds itself under four aspects : Beauty, 

* In a mission school in the Sudan, thirty young men speak 
fifteen languages, so distinct that they cannot understand each 
other. English has become their common speech. 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


305 


Truth, Usefulness and Goodness ; and if the African 
is to be truly educated all these must be developed 
in him. These aspects cannot be isolated one 
from another. You cannot have one class for 
Beauty and another for Goodness. The whole 
school-life, within the building and outside, should 
be so organized that both curriculum and 
environment lead irresistibly, if insensibly, to the 
desired end, namely that the pupils love beauty, 
truth and goodness, and are useful. 

It is often said that Africans have no appreciation 
of beauty. This is not altogether true, but if the 
aesthetic sense is undeveloped that is all the more 
reason why we should pay attention to it. The 
pupils ought to be surrounded with beautiful 
things. Education should aim at training their 
taste in such matters as dress and architecture. 
One only needs to look at much of the costume 
and many of the habitations of civilized Africans 
to realize how we have failed to make them love 
beauty. How much, apart from singing hymns, 
have the schools done to develop the African’s 
undoubted genius for music ? What has been done 
to train their ability for metal-work, wood-carving, 
grass-plaiting and clay-moulding ? If the Africans 
are to be truly educated these things must be 
attended to, not solely for utilitarian ends, but 
for the purpose of refining and developing their 
aesthetic sense. 

Education is most emphatically not a mere 
impartation of knowledge : it is not a pouring-in 
of facts ; certainly it is not a pumping-in of a mass 

X 


3o6 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


of heterogeneous information. There must be 
much instruction, of course. At the very least the 
three R’s must figure in every elementary school. 
But it is essential that these, and whatever else 
we teach in the schools, higher and lower, be related 
to the life of the people. There is no sense in 
wasting time by trying to teach things which 
they cannot assimilate and for which they will 
never have any use. No door must be closed 
against an African ; he must have liberty to rise 
as high as he is capable of going. There are now 
many capable African ministers, physicians and 
lawyers. In course of time it is to be hoped there 
will be thousands more of these. ^ But the great 
bulk of the people will continue to live simple 
lives, and it is absurd to try and teach them subjects 
that will never be of any service to them. I have 
seen an examination paper set (in English) for 
third year candidates in a normal school in East 
Africa. Not a single question related to Africa. 
The last question ran : “ What do you know about 
Homer and the Odyssey, Julius Caesar, Hannibal, 
etc. ? ” It may be good to teach the literature 
and history of Greece and Rome, but it is assuredly 
wrong to neglect the literature and history and 
geography of the pupils’ own country. Beginning 
in junior standards with the folk-tales, many of 
which have high educational value, the pupils 
should be made familiar with the laws and 
institutions of their country, the story of their 
tribe and chiefs, of the coming of the Europeans 
’ I am not so sure about lawyers. — E, W, S. 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 307 

and their aims, and of the change which this 
threatens. In this way they will be led to reflect, 
and to value whatever there is of good in their 
traditions. The geography, too, of their country, 
its resources and its economic needs, are a subject 
for teaching. These can all be made intensely 
interesting and of real value, especially if parallels 
be drawn with the history and geography of England 
and other countries. A most important subject 
is the laws of health. In view of what we discovered 
in a previous chapter it is a matter of first-class 
importance. But even this instruction is not the 
main thing. “ Truth ” in the Copec enumeration 
does not stand merely for accurate knowledge of 
facts. Above everything, pupils must be trained 
to use their minds, to ask questions, to think 
clearly, to love truth fearlessly and passionately. 

Another aspect of life is Usefulness. Under 
this head we may briefly deal with two subjects, 
the first of which is technical education. Any 
system is false in so far as it neglects training of 
eye and hand. But the reason for giving this 
training must be clearly comprehended. Some 
missions teach agriculture and handicrafts, partly 
in order to render their work self-supporting by 
the sale of the products. In some instances the 
missions train carpenters, masons, telegraph- 
operators, for the Government and settlers. These 
men turn out some really excellent work, proving 
the intelligence and manual dexterity of the Africans. 
But to what extent does this training result in 
raising the kraalman’s standard of life ? Do the 


X 2 


3o8 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


trained artisans return to their own villages and 
give their fellows the benefit of their training ? 
As a rule they do not. Some of them are so 
highly trained that they will not demean themselves 
to make common objects for humble homes. Some 
of them are at sea unless they have the elaborate 
tools to which they were accustomed during their 
apprenticeship. They generally find employment 
on European farms and settlements. This is not 
to be deprecated entirely. The missions fulfil 
a very useful function in preparing skilled artisans 
who will assist in developing the resources of the 
country. All that is now urged is that technical 
instruction should not stop at producing employes 
for the Europeans. There is a valid reason for it 
apart from this. Manual work gives a medium 
for self-expression, an occasion for teaching accuracy 
and perseverance, for forming taste, for arousing 
the joy of creation. It is therefore a means of 
developing character, and this is its supreme 
justification. This is an argument for teaching 
in all schools simple industries which involve the 
use of easily procurable materials. Above all, 
we must remember that the Africans are, and will 
remain, primarily agriculturists — as Dr. Jesse Jones 
says, they are relatively far more dependent on 
agriculture than any other people in the world. 
First of all, the schools must imbue the pupils 
with a sense of the vital importance of everything 
that pertains to the soil and the farm : then they 
must teach better methods of tilling, how to over- 
come the insect pests, how to grow new plants, 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


309 


how to care for and improve stock, and so on. 
In a word, the schools must endeavour to put 
the Africans in a position of economic independence. 

The second thing to be said under this head of 
usefulness is that the schools should be made a 
means of blessing to the whole community. Too 
often they stand apart from the everyday life of 
the village : the boys and girls attend for a few 
hours a day and then return home ; the parents 
do not see what good it brings them. The school 
should aim not solely at teaching the children 
but at uplifting the whole life of the community. 
It should be the centre of social service — spreading 
abroad, by means of the pupils, present and past, 
knowledge of sanitary laws and of agriculture, 
and ideals of cleanliness and purity. What has 
been done in America, and in recent years in 
India, points the path in this direction. The 
extension to all schools of the Boy Scouts’ and 
Girl Guides’ movements would be an excellent 
thing. 

Lastly, Goodness. If there is one thing that 
i§ recognized more than another by all who are 
concerned with education in Africa, it is that the 
primary object to be attained is character in the 
pupils. Whatever we teach, our aim must be to 
turn out good men and women. The Supreme 
Teacher has indicated the ideal : the character 
we want is that of the man who loves the Lord 
his God with all his heart, with all his soul, and 
with all his mind, and his neighbour as himself. 
Men who ar« not themselves professing Christians 


310 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


really have that ideal at the back of their mind 
when they speak of character. To reach that end, 
religion must take its proper place in the schools 
of Africa. 

And in speaking of religious teaching we do not 
mean the conventional hour or two allotted to the 
subject in the curriculum. It means more than 
an occasional lesson on the Bible and catechism. 
“Religion,” says a Quaker document quoted by the 
C.O.P.E.C. Commission, “ is not a distinct technical 
department or occupation, but rather that which 
gives unity and meaning to the whole, a dynamic, 
embracing and inspiring power.” “ If this is true, 
then,” the Commission comments, “ religion is the 
vital essence of education, and education is an 
integral part of the mission of religion.”^ Definite 
dogmatic instruction there must be — I am a strong 
believer in a catechism, provided that it be written 
with direct reference to the religious needs of the 
African. The Bible must be used and taught 
regularly. But religion is more than religious 
instruction. It cannot be imparted as geography 
and arithmetic are imparted. Religion as life in 
God flows through a teacher who is himself religious. 
More depends here upon the teacher than in any 
other department. And the man or woman who 
is aflame with love for God and man will set his 
pupils aflame, and show them how religion can 
elevate and colour and inspire every phase of 
life. An oft-quoted passage indicates the place 


^ C.O.P.E.C. Report on Education, p. 49. 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


3 ” 


that should be taken by religion in the schools of 
Africa : — 

“ Not long ago I met one of our great schoolmasters — 
a veteran in that high service. ' Where in your time table 
do you teach rehgion ? ’ I asked him. ‘ We teach it all day 
long, ’ he answered. ‘ We teach it in arithmetic, by accuracy . 
We teach it in language, by learning to say what we mean — 
" Yea, yea, and nay, nay.” We teach it in history, by 
humanity. We teach it in geography, by breadth of mind. 
We teach it in handicraft, by thoroughness. We teach it 
in astronomy, by reverence. We teach it in the playground, 
by fair play. We teach it by kindness to animals, by 
courtesy to servants, by good manners to one another, and 
by truthfulness in all things. We teach it by showing the 
children that we, their elders, are their friends and not 
their enemies.’ 

Happy, indeed, will Africa be when all her schools 
unite to send out young men and women who 
shall have been taught in this way that religion 
is co-extensive with life.< 


VI. 

Two subjects of paramount importance must 
be referred to, if but briefly. First, the education 
of African women. It is folly to suppose that 
Africa can be given a new life if the mothers of 
the future generation are neglected. The home is 
even more important than the school as a means of 
education, and mothers, in Africa as all the world 
over, are the chief moulders of a people. 

To educate the girls is a difficult and delicate 

1 L. P. Jacks, A Living Universe, pp. 50, 31. 


312 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


task. The right way has been shown by Miss 
Mabel Shaw, of the London Missionary Society. 
Her notable article in the International Review of 
Missions for October, 1925, contains matter of the 
utmost significance. She has demonstrated the 
possibility of training girls over a number of years, 
implanting successfully Christian ideals, without 
removing them from the life of the tribe. How 
successful her experiment is can be seen from the 
fact that the old prejudice of the women of the 
tribe has been broken down. 

" Now that they see the fine, sturdy, happy babies that 
some of the old girls have, instead of the poor puny mites 
that girls who have married at fourteen have, they are 
content to leave their girls in school until they are sixteen, 
seventeen, even eighteen years old. They see sick children 
nursed and recovering, whereas in the village they might 
die ; they see the girls clean, strong, healthy, and these 
things make their impression on the women, and it makes 
some of them eager to learn the new ways.” 

Lastly must be emphasized the need for 
concentrating largely upon the education of the 
future leaders of the African peoples. The great 
institutions like that at Achimota have their place 
— always provided that they do not create too great 
a gulf between the students and the life of 
their nation. It is true that the future of 
Africa lies not so much in these colleges as in the 
village schools. But the teachers and leaders of 
the future generation must be trained. The greatest 
need in Africa to-day is a great corps of intelligent, 
god-fearing men and women, with eyes open to 
the future of their race and with reverence for the 


EDUCATION IN AFRICA. 


313 


past, who shall go out to uplift their fellows. To 
be the trainers of such leaders — Africa has no 
more useful and attractive task to offer to the 
Christian men and women of England. 


EPILOGUE. 


I. 

T WENTY-SIX years ago my father delivered 
the Hartley Lecture. ^ We are supposed to 
have advanced in many directions during 
this quarter of a century, and are rather apt perhaps 
to look upon the previous generation as hopelessly 
antiquated. But in re-reading my father’s book 
again after so far completing my own, I am struck 
above all else by its very modern tone. With a 
vigour and eloquence that I cannot emulate he 
set forth many of the things advocated in these 
pages. He defined the aim of the Christian Church 
in no narrow way. To him (as to myself) the 
object of the missionary work of the Church is to 
win for Jesus Christ the moral supi'emacy of the 
world. 

“ I am fully convinced,” he said, “ that the purely 
evangelistic method is not sufficient for the complete moral 
and social transformation of such heathen people or peoples 
as the Africans. The full work of the Gospel is never 
completed until its truths and morals are embodied in the 
customs and laws and institutions of the people at large. 
This means the formation of a social life which shall be 
Christian to its very foundation, penetrated by Christian 
* John Smith, Christ and Missions (1900). 


THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY. 315 

ideas and aims to its very springs The complete 


transformation of heathen Africa requires all the forces 
represented by the Christian church, the day-school and 
the workshop. Any method that aims at accomplishing 
lasting work must provide for the mental and social training 

of the young The ennoblement of native character 

and life must come by the eye and hand as well as by the 
head and heart.” 

My father insisted upon the cardinal importance 
of building an indigenous Church in Africa, self- 
propagating, self-supporting, self-governing, with a 
native ministry, not Europeanised and not severed 
from the people. Everything will fail, he urged, 
unless Christianity be given a real living root in 
the native soil. He doubted whether the tone of 
African Christianity will ever be thoroughly healthy 
until it is the spontaneous product of native thought 
and energy, working mainly through native channels. 
He advocated the frank recognition, and even 
assimilation, of whatever is good in other forms of 
religion. With all this, as with his noble exposition 
of the Christian motive, I am in entire and cordial 
agreement. 

My lecture has covered much ground that my 
father’s did not touch. He was always indignant 
at the wrongs committed against the Africans, 
but questions of land and population, and some 
other like matters, did not come within the scope 
of his theme. I should like my lecture to be 
considered as a sequel to his. He said what was 
most necessary to be said in his day — ^much, indeed, 
that still needs saying. I have tried to say some 
of the things that need saying to-day. 


316 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


II. 

In view of what is here set forth, and much it 
has not been possible to say, what is the duty of 
Christian people ? Their duty is to apply the 
spirit of Christ fearlessly to the solution of the 
problems presented by the contact of races and 
cultures in Africa. 

Let us, in the first place, be clear upon some 
points. Christianity stands for the Kingdom of 
God, which is not eating and drinking, but 
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. 
The Kingdom of God is not the British Empire, 
nor any other Empire, and Christianity does not 
exist for the glorification and extension of any 
earthly power. This is not to belittle the British 
Empire which in its finest aspects is, in my opinion, 
one means of bringing in the Kingdom of God. 
But we must beware of confounding the two. 
Nor is Christianity synonymous with Western 
civilization. There are many things that are true 
and good in this civilization of ours, but many 
things also that are glaringly unchristian. The 
Gospel does not exist to be the useful ally of the 
magistrate in keeping the barbarian quiet — nor to 
be the trainer of docile servants for the farmer and 
miner. There is in Christianity a permanent, 
timeless principle which has no special reference to 
any particular conjunction of events, to any 
particular period, to any particular race. 

“ The claim of Christianity is not that it is one among 
a number of religions, all of which are good, each for a 


THE CHRISTIAN’S DUTY. 


317 


different set of people, nor indeed that it is primarily a 
drug for men’s diseases at all, in which case we might suppose 
that there would be different drugs for different diseases ; 
it claims that it is the truth about this world in which we 
live, and that from it and through it alone can you find 
in any fullness the knowledge of the God who made and 
who rules the world, and is guiding it to the fulfilment of 
His own purpose.”! 

This does not mean that Christianity has nothing 
to say about the actual problems of Africa. It 
means that Christianity has the final word to say, 
and that apart from Christianity there can be no 
solution. Our Faith is to be vindicated by a 
practical application of it to every-day life. If 
God be Love and the Father of all, if He wills 
that men are to realise their common brotherhood 
in active acknowledgment of that eternal fact, if 
truth be on the side of love and not on the side of 
hate, prejudice and contempt, then this doctrine 
must be applicable to every problem raised by the 
contact of races and cultures in Africa, and it is 
our business as Christian men and women to apply 
it. 

The civilization that is being introduced so 
rapidly into Africa is deeply saturated with 
materialism. Upon their claim to be of a superior 
race, Europeans as a whole base a right to the 
service of others. They do not look upon human 
well-being in the highest sense as an object worth 
toiling for in itself. Increase of knowledge of the 
world, self-expression in music, art and literature, 

! The Rt. Rev. William Temple, Bishop of Manchester, 
The Universality of Christ (1921), p. 31. 


3i8 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


the following after Truth, Beauty and Goodness, 
all such spiritual values we subordinate to a search 
for cotton, gold and copper. We place in the 
forefront of our aims the growing of products for 
our factories, and the extension of markets for our 
merchandise. This pursuit of material ends colours 
even our professed altruism, as when we press for 
education of the African and for the saving of life, 
not so much for the African’s own benefit as because 
our own prosperity will be enhanced thereby. 
The religion of Jesus Christ cannot tolerate such 
regard for material ends as the purpose of life. 
It cannot acquiesce in any scheme that makes the 
Black a mere instrument for producing wealth — 
whether for himself or for the White. The rights 
of personality stand supreme in Christ’s estimation 
of man, and should so stand in ours. Men and 
women, of whatever race or colour or grade of 
culture, and altogether apart from their economic 
value in the market, are God’s creatures and of 
infinite worth in themselves. They are members 
of one family of which ourselves form a part. Such 
a conception does not place all men on an equality 
in capacity and actual acquirement,^ but it does 
demand that their manhood be respected, and that 
they be given a fair chance to develop the utmost 
that is in them. We who have been dowered 
with greater privileges must share our heritage 
with the less privileged, giving of our best with 

1 " With regard to the Negroes I have coined the formula, 
‘ I am your brother, it is true, but your elder brother.’ ” — 
Albert Schweitzer. 


THE CHRISTIAN’S DUTY. 


319 


unstinted generosity, even though it may mean 
that our relatively higher position in the industrial 
and cultural world be diminished thereby. That 
risk we must take. In a word, Christ’s principle 
demands that we white folk put ourselves by an 
effort of imagination in the black man’s place, 
and ask ourselves what we would then wish to be 
done in regard to us. We must do to others as 
we would be done by. 

We Europeans are practical people and demand 
of every proposal. Will it pay ? We ought not 
to argue matters on these lines. If a thing is right 
it should be done whatever the consequences. 
Yet, if our religion be true, its application in the 
economic sphere will be justified by results, and 
the cynical maxim “ Honesty is the best policy ” 
will be proved correct. We recognize that in our 
home industries it is not only right but also com- 
mercially profitable to treat men as men and not 
as mere “ hands ” to be exploited. That the 
application of the same principle to Africa has the 
same result has already been proved. The slave- 
trade was as contrary as anything possibly could 
be to the spirit of Christ. The great Emancipators 
based their persuasions for its abolition upon high 
Christian principle, but they never shrank from 
declaring that abolition would pay. The abolition, 
as Mr. Ramsay Muir says, “ struck a note of a new 
era in the history of the British Commonwealth, 
an era in which|ruthless exploitation of primitive 
peoples would be no longer regarded as permissible.” 
Here was an assertion that Christian principle 


320 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


and not commercial expediency must rule our 
relations with Africa. Who will deny that it has 
been justified economically ? An unrestrained, 
unredeemed commercialism, inspired by no motive 
loftier than that of Mammon, defeats its own ends 
by leading to the decimation and extinction of its 
victims. Had the slave-trade continued unchecked, 
it would by this time have almost, if not quite, 
depopulated Africa. What would that have meant 
to the peoples of Europe ? What would it have 
meant to the looms of Lancashire to-day and still 
more in the near future, had our merchants succeeded 
in maintaining the trade in men and women ? As 
it is, commerce and industry are still suffering 
from the effects of the inhuman and impolitic 
procedure of past centuries. And the unchristian 
treatment of Africans in many parts of Africa 
to-day will have to be paid for by commercial 
failure in the future. You cannot depopulate a 
country now and expect it to provide labourers 
and customers for the next generation. If you will 
kill your goose, you must suffer the loss of golden 
eggs. On the contrary, to conserve the population, 
to treat Africans as men should be treated, is to 
make an investment that will pay handsomely. 

This, it is true, is to argue the question on a low 
level, and yet there are some people to whom only 
such arguments appeal. Let us press upon them 
the maxim that what is true religiously is also 
true economically ; that if they will not treat the 
African as a man from higher motives, at least let 
them treat him properly for their own sake. 


THE CHRISTIAN’S DUTY. 


321 


III. 

Let people in England remember that in their 
name the principle of Trusteeship for the well-being 
of Africans has been solemnly accepted. It is 
for them to see to it that this be not a mere pious 
aspiration but carried out in all the acts of Govern- 
ment, and particularly in all economic policy. 

Each and everyone of us has personal 
responsibility in this matter. The burden of 
Trusteeship rests upon each individual. As Trustees 
it is our boimden duty to acquaint ourselves with 
what is being done in Africa. We must strenuously 
resist the temptation to speak wild and whirling 
words that have little or no foundation in truth. 
Indiscriminate denunciation does more harm than 
good. It is not easy to arrive at a correct estimation 
of complex and difficult problems. An attempt 
has been made to do so in this book, but it is 
possible that here and there failure may be detected 
notwithstanding an earnest desire to be absolutely 
just. I would plead with my readers to seek out 
and study the facts. If they are then convinced 
that injustice is being done in any matter let them 
strike and strike hard, — they have many means 
of making their voices heard. But only in so far 
as their protests are well-informed will they prevail. 

In recent years there has been a noteworthy 
growth of altruistic regard for the African and 
other backward peoples. It would be folly, however, 
to pretend that all members of the white race 
accept the principle of Trusteeship. There are 

Y 


322 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


many Britons who look upon it as sentimental 
claptrap. A conflict still rages between two 
opposing conceptions of what our attitude should be 
towards the Africans. It is part of the warfare 
between God and Mammon. Mr. Ramsay Muir is 
undoubtedly correct in his claim that “ it was the 
influence of the missionaries which was to establish 
the principle that, in the backward regions of the 
world, it was the duty of the British power to prevent 
the ruthless exploitation of primitive peoples and 
to lead them gently into civilised ways of life.” 
Missionaries must continue to stand, as they have 
stood in the past, as tribunes of the Africans. But 
let us beware of thinking, or of saying, or of acting 
as if we believed, that missionaries ever possessed 
any monopoly of the Christian spirit. This is 
said deliberately and of purpose, because there is 
still a tendency in some quarters to suspect the 
motives of other classes of white men. Many 
people, not professedly disciples of Christ, are 
inspired by Christian ideals in their relation to the 
Blacks. They prove it possible to settle among 
and to trade with Africans and yet to act justly. 
There is a widespread and increasing conviction 
among Europeans in Africa that service and not 
exploitation is the road we must follow. In my 
experience, the men who represent Great Britain 
as administrators are almost uniformly actuated, 
like the noble fellow to whose memory I have 
(in part) dedicated this book, by the loftiest motives. 
These try to live up to the standard sketched for 
the British Colonial Service by Sir Hugh Clifford 


THE CHRISTIAN’S DUTY. 


323 


in a memorable letter addressed to its members 
in Nigeria : — 

" Our primary function is not so much to rule as to 
serve the populations whose affairs we are administering 
and the countries whose resources we are helping to develop. 
Also, loyalty, discipline and devotion to duty should be 
the very life-blood of the Service ; and among the major 
tenets of our creed should be that if, as all too frequently 
befalls, public duty and private interests and affections 
threaten to clash, precedence must unhesitatingly, nay, 
instinctively, be accorded to the former; that each of us 
while serving in the Tropics carries the honour of our 
country in his hands and must ever be scrupulously regardful 
of that sacred trust ; that every precept of chivalry that 
lies at the back of the Englishman’s inbred love of fair- 
play — every sympathy which weakness should quicken in 
the strong and every appeal that impotence can address 
to power — should make it a point of honour for each of us 
to be meticulously just and unendingly patient, tolerant 
and kind in all our doings with the often pathetically 
defenceless people whose affairs are committed to our 
charge.”! 

Here indeed is the spirit of Him who came not 
to be ministered unto but to minister. Let us 
thankfully recognize it wherever it is found and 
give these men our cordial and loyal support in 
their difficult task. 

Finally, our duty is to uphold the hands and to 
increase the numbers of the men and women who 
go out as our representatives in obedience to the 
Saviour’s command : “Go and make disciples of 
all nations.” Let us not imagine that the task is 
ended — ^it is as yet hardly begun. There are 
immense fields yet to be occupied, and not for 

! West Africa, February 21, 1925. 


Y 2 


324 


THE GOLDEN STOOL. 


many long years will the African Church be able 
to stand alone. The old period of adventurous 
pioneering in regions unknown is drawing to a 
close, has indeed closed in many parts of Africa, 
but the era of steady, quiet building the foundations 
of the Christian nations to be calls for men and 
women of like endurance and devotion. We need 
the best the Church can give — they cannot be 
too able nor too highly trained. I hope the day 
will soon come when every central mission station 
will have its doctor and nurses, with a well-equipped 
hospital. The most urgent need to-day is for 
well-qualified educationalists who will train the 
native teachers and preachers. There is room for 
hundreds of them. The Christian Church never 
had a greater opportunity than it now has in Africa 
of shaping the destiny of nations. 

IV. 

While these final words are being written there 
hangs before me in the place of honour in my study 
the enlarged photograph of Mungalo — one of my 
friends to whom I dedicate this book. He was an 
old chief of the Ba-ila at Kasenga. His unbeautiful 
face was deeply pitted by smallpox ; no doubt his 
soul was deeply stained, he remained pagan to the 
end : yet if ever two men loved each other they were 
Mungalo and myself. In a land where the term 
mulongo (“friend”) is sacred, he and I were 
“ friends.” Nobody ever spoke to me of Mungalo 
by name : it was always “ thy friend.” I never 


THE CHRISTIAN’S DUTY. 


325 


spoke of him by name : it was always “ my friend,” 
and everybody understood. I can hear even now 
his ringing tones as he announced himself outside 
my door by calling me : Mulongwangu ! (“ my 
friend ”) ; and can see his rugged countenance 
lighten as he welcomed me to his home with the 
same word : Mulongwangu ! Heaven itself will be 
something less than heaven if I do not hear that 
greeting — Mulongwangu ! — when I enter the pearly 
gates. We spent long hours together, whether in 
his hut, or in my study, or out in the open. He was 
a rare companion — the best raconteur I ever knew. 
We talked freely and frankly, discussing all things 
on earth and in heaven, so far as our limited 
experience would allow. Pagan as he was, I rarely 
have known a man of finer reverence. He was 
deeply religious. Through the window of Mungalo’s 
soul thrown open so unreservedly to me, I saw the 
African in all his weakness and strength ; a man 
of like passions with ourselves, capable, as we are, 
of depths of infamy and of altitudes of nobility. 
Anyone who has enjoyed the intimate friendship 
of one African can never think meanly of the race. 
They have a genius for friendship ; they excel in 
loyalty. No people perhaps are more capable of a 
deep and constant fidelity to those whom they 
love — for their sake they will go through fire and 
water and brave a thousand deaths. A people 
characterised by such fine faithfulness have in them 
the making of good citizens — of good followers of 
the Christ who esteemed so highly this lowly virtue 
and made it the test of life. 


INDEX 


Abyssinia, slavery in. 104. 
Aeroplanes in Africa. 31. 

Aggrey, Dr. 225, 261», 281, 288. 
Ali, Muhammad. 217, 228, 243. 
Allegret, Dr. Elie. " 70«, 140. 

AUier, Raoul. 281 ». 
Ancestor-worship. 192. 

Andr4, Captain P. J. 222. 

Ashanti, the Golden Stool of. 1-17. 

changes in. 46-48. 

Assimilation. 1 74 sqq. 


Baker, R. St. Barbe. 7C«. 
Baldwin, Stanley. 176. 
Balfour, Lord. 157. 

Barker, W. H. 201. 
Basutoland. 162 sqq. 

Beer, G. L. 68n, 140. 
Belgian Congo [see Katanga). 


176. 


24, 175, 


depopulation. 141. 
infant mortality. 136. 

Bible, translations of. 41. 

Blyden, Dr. 233. 

Boy Scouts. 275 , 276 , 30 9. 

Brookes, Dr. Edgar 55, 59, 181, 207, 


238, 


Browne, Major St. J. Orde. 52, 75, 216. 
Bryce, Lord. 60, 77, 164, 177. 
Buckmaster, Lord. 157. 

Burnham, Lord. 114». 

Buxton, Sir T. Fowell. 108. 


Calloway, Canon G. 274». 

Carlyle, Thomas. 117, 151. 

Casalis, Rev. A. 247. 

Cash, Rev. W. W. 244. 

Chancellor, Sir J. 126«. 

Claridge G. C. 194. 

Clifford, Sir H. 154, 208, 322 323. 
Cobham, Viscount. 148. 

Cocoa. 114, 120. 

effect of planting. 201. 

Commerce in Africa. 26, 27, 98 sqq., 
197 sqq. 

Cook, Dr. A. R. 146. 

Cook, Dr. J. H. 146. 

Cotton. 112, lit sj?., 145. 

Cromer, Lord. 126, 139»i, 177. 
Coupland, R. 81, 103. 

Cousins, C. W. 64. 


Daily Herald, The. 151. 

Dale, Canon G. 240, 243. 
Darley, Major H. lOtre. 

Dawson, W. H. 57, 87, 11 9n. 
Delafosse, M. 89. 

Depopulation. 64, 100, 139 sqq. 
Direct Rule. 168, 169. 
Disintegration. 167 sqq., 2o2 sqq. 
Downes, Captain W. D. 93». 


East Africa. 148, 151n, 160. 

East Africa Commission. 93, 96, 122, 
143, 144)J, 148, 156. 

Education. 283 sqq. 

Advisory Committee on. 95,287,288, 
289, 303. 

Edwards, George. 151. 

Eg3T>t, Influence of. 44. 

Eliot, Sir C. 156. 

Elisabethville. 50, 51. 

Europeans in Africa, number of. 62, 63, 
64. 

Evans, Sir M. 181, 257. 


Fetishism. 194. 

Fitzpatrick, Capt. J. F. J. 171. 

Forced Labour. 124 sqq. 

Fox, C. J. 102. 

Foucald, Charles de. 246. 

Franck, Louis. 176 , 290», 301. 

Frazer, Sir J. G. 15, 16, 88, 89n 195, 
196. 

French Africa 
Expansion of. 21, 22. 
depopulation in. 140, 141. 
labour in. 128. 

policy of assimilation. 174, 175,301. 


Gairdner, Canon W. H. T. 232, 236. 
Germans in Africa 24, 168, 169. 

Gold Coast Colony, prosperity of. 48. 

cocoa grown in. 114, 120. 

Graham, Sir T. 87. 

Gregory, J.W. 56, 61, 65, 184n, 

Grey, George . 50. 

Guggisberg, Sir G. 36. 


Harrison, Dr. P. W. 259. 
Hastings, A. C. G. 173«. 


INDEX. 


327 


Hertslet, Sir E. 153, 155. 
Hertzog General. 183 sqq. 

Hine, Bishop. 247, 248, 2(i4. 
Hobley, C. \V. 68 , 76, 190 , 206. 
Hurgronje, C. S. 229. 


Ila speaking peoples. The. 210n, 255. 
Indirect Rule 163, 168, 171 172. 
Infant mortality. 136, 137, 
Iron-smelting. 89. 

Islam in Africa. 217 sqq. 

Italians in Africa. 24 


Jacks, Dr. L. P. 311. 

Jacottet, Rev. E. 188. 

Johannesburg Conference. 183, 185. 
Johnston, Sir H. H. 41, 66, 125, 199», 
235, 240, 255. 

Jones, Dr. Jesse 291, 308. 


Kay Dr. D. M. 231. 
Katanga. 50, 51, 114. 
Kenya, land in. 156 sqq. 
Kidd, Benjamin. 35, 110. 
Kinshasa. 49. 


Labour problem, The. 118 sqq. 

Lagden, Sir G. 163, 166, 167. 

Land question. The. 148 sqq, 184, 185, 
201 sqq. 

Language problem. The. 300 sqq. 
League of Nations, covenant of. 94. 

mandates. 123. 

Levy-Bruhl, L. 84. 

Leys, Dr. Norman. 156it, 157, 158, 

215, 222, 241. 

Linfield, F. C. 143, 145. 

Livingstone, David. 18, 74, 100, 109. 
Loram, C. T. 283, 284. 

Lucas, B. 259. 

Lucas, Sir C. 68n, 71 n. 

Lugard, Sir F. 96, 105«, 122, 128, 130 
131 , 1.54, 160», 228, 230 , 243 , 253. 
Lugard, Lady. 220, 242. 


Mackenzie, D. K. 75. 

Macmillan, W. M. 152», 181. 
Malinowski, Dr. 85. 

Mana. 192, 193. 

Mandates Commission. 124. 

Mangin, General. 91. 

Masani, R. P. 234. 

Maugham, R. C. F. 80. 

McDougall, Dr. W. 85 , 272. 

Medical research. 33 sqq. 

Meek C. K. 44, 138, 224, 231, 250, 
302. 

Melland, F. H. 68 k, 93k. 

Migeod, F. W. H. 171. 


Miscegnation. 61, 62. 

Missions, Christian. 249 sqq, 285 sqq. 
Baptist on Congo. 38. 
in Basutoland. 166, 16 7. 

C. M. S. in Uganda. 39 , 26 9, 2 70, 
271 

Presbyterians in Nyasaland. 39, 40. 
Primitive Methodists in Fernando Po 
40. 

Mohr, F. L. M. 109, 197. 

Money, Sir L. Chiozza. 62,63,133. 
Morel, E. D. 22 7, 230, 233. 

Moshesh 162, 163. 

Motor-cars in Africa. 30, 31. 

M’Queen, J. 106», 107. 

Muir, Ramsay. 99, 319, 322. 

Mungalo. 324, 325. 


Names, African. 2 73, 274. 
Nevinson, H. W. 102, 129. 
Newton, Rev. J. 103. 

Nielsen, P. 86. 

Niger Expedition. 108, 109. 
Nigeria, Mtish rule in. 74,171. 
Census. 138. 

Land in. 153, 154, 155. 

Trade of. 113. 


Oldham, J. H. 81. 
O’Rorke, Bishop. 260. 


Partition of Africa. 20-26. 
Phelps-Stokes Commission. 224, 283. 
Phihp, Dr. J. 180. 

Poor Whites. 58, 59. 

Polygamy. 233, 2 78, 2 79. 

Population of Africa. 133. 
of Basutoland. 167. 
of South Africa. 64. 

Questions of. 133 sqq. 

Portuguese in Africa. 22, 24, 66. 

Labour under. 12 7, 129. 

Pratt, Ambrose. 58. 

Prestige, European. 73 sqq. 

Price, Rev. J. W. 90»t. 


Qu’ran, The (Koran). 217, 218, 238, 240. 


Racial Intermixture. 61 , 62. 

Railways in Africa. 2 7, 28. 

Ramsay, Sir W. 263. 

Rattray, Captain R. S. 13, 14, 191, 194. 
Religion of Africans. 190 sqq., 204. 
Rhodes, Cecil. 23, 170, 182. 

Roscoe, Rev. J. 150. 

Ross, E. A. 127. 

Rousseau, J. J. 91, 92, 187. 


328 


INDEX. 


Sarraut, Albert. 175. 

Schweitzer, Dr. 255, 318. 

Schwetz, Dr. 136, 142 
Segregation. 180 sqq. 

Sell, Dr. E. 237, 238. 

Servier, Andr5. 229, 236n, 239. 
Shakespeare, quoted. 77, 78, 79. 
Shantz, H. L. IKi. 

Shepstone, Sir T. 181. 

Slavery, Temporary Commission. 104, 
105k, 242. 

Draft Convention. 105. 

Definition of. 104. 
and Islam. 228, 242. 

Slave Trade. 69, 71», SO, 99 sqq. 
Sleeping-sickness. 69, 142, 146. 

Sloane, W. M. 175. 

Sloley, Sir H. 166. 

Smith, Adam. 101. 

South Africa, labour in. 57-60. 
land in. 152, 185. 
native problem in. 179 sqq. 
population. 139. 
slums in. 58. 

Stanley, Sir H. M. 19, 20, 28, 29 37, 
38, 39, 49, 106. 

Stevens, E. J. C. 62, 181, 184. 
Sublimation. 272 sqq. 

Sudan, population of. 139. 


Tagart, E. S. B. 254. 

Talbot, P. A. 197, 209, 254, 255. 
Taxation. 126, 130, 213. 


Telegraph in Africa. 32. 

Temple, C. L. 168, 250, 251. 
Temple, Bishop W. 317. 

Tilsley, G. E. 71, 137. 

Torday, Emile. 89, 92, 200, 276. 
Towns, natives in. 206, 207. 
Trades Union Congress. 67. 


Uganda, Church in. 39, 269. 
Cotton in. 112, 121. 
medical work. 146. 


Vassal, G. M. 84, 140. 

Vignon, Louis. 53, 88, 175, 236i!, 24 Gk. 


War, the world; effect of. 68 , 75 , 76, 
92, 93. 

Wauters, Joseph. 50, 141. 

Weale, B. L. Putnam. 82, 88. 

Weeks, Rev. J. H. 189. 

West Africa. 154, 155, 323. 
Westermann, Dr. D. 300. 

Whitehead, Bishop. 291 sqq., 296, 297. 
Wilberforce, W. 101, 107, 108. 
WUhams, Dr. Garfield. 286n. 

Williams, Robert. 51. 

Willis, Bishop J. J. 269. 

Wolf, Leonard. 112, 113. 

Worsley, H. 116n. 

Zwemer, Dr. S. M. 221, 222, 246. 


Fletcher & Son, Ltd., Printers, Norwich. 


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